Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for December 27, 2020 is:

franchise • FRAN-chyze  • noun

1 a : the right or license granted to an individual or group to market a company’s goods or services in a particular territory; also : a business granted such a right or license

b : a constitutional or statutory right or privilege; especially : the right to vote

2 a : the right of membership in a professional sports league

b : a team and its operating organization having such membership

3 : a series of related works (such as novels or films) each of which includes the same characters or different characters that are understood to exist and interact in the same fictional universe with characters from the other works

4 : freedom or immunity from some burden or restriction vested in a person or group


“The primary elections won’t be decided for another month, but Laramie County residents can start casting their votes Friday. Here’s a rundown of how to exercise your franchise, courtesy of Laramie County Clerk Debra Lee….” — Austin Huguelet, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle, 5 July 2018

“Star Wars fans who can’t get enough of the franchise may have just gotten the early Christmas present of their dreams, as Disney unveiled a whopping slate of 10 new Star Wars television series coming to Disney+ over the next two years, including some based around characters that are already fan favorites.” — Nicholas Reimann, Forbes, 10 Dec. 2020

Did you know?

Franchise was voted into early 14th-century English as both a noun and verb. It is from the Anglo-French verb franchir, meaning “to free,” itself from franc, “free.” To be perfectly frank, the word franchise is most often encountered today with reference to restaurant chains or professional sports teams (e.g., “a franchise quarterback”), not to mention branded retail stores and sequel-driven movies and novels. These commercial meanings are far from the original meaning of the word in English: “freedom or immunity from some burden or restriction vested in a person or group.” This meaning evolved into the “right to vote” sense of the word.

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