Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for August 6, 2020 is:

grubstake • GRUB-stayk  • verb

: to provide with material assistance (such as a loan) for launching an enterprise or for a person in difficult circumstances


“Kimbro, on the other hand, traveled widely, still hoping to find the speculator who would grubstake him for the big attack on the hidden field. He would go anywhere, consult with anyone, and offer almost any kind of inducement: ‘Let me have the money, less than a year, ten-percent interest, and I’ll give you one-thirty-second of my participation.'” — James A. Michener, Texas, 1985

“When my entrepreneurial father had the bright idea to start a microfilm company, he asked my grandfather for financial help, only to be refused.… Eventually his brother, Frank, a doctor, grubstaked him for $500 to help start the company, a tidy sum in those days.” — Phil Power, Bridge Magazine (Michigan), 28 Mar. 2020

Did you know?

Grubstake is a linguistic nugget that was dug up during the famous California Gold Rush, which began in 1848. Sometime between the first stampede and the early 1860s, when the gold-seekers headed off to Montana, prospectors combined grub (“food”) and stake, meaning “an interest or share in an undertaking.” At first grubstake was a noun, referring to any kind of loan or provisions that could be finagled to make an undertaking possible (with the agreement that the “grubstaker” would get a cut of any profits). By the 1870s, grubstake was also showing up as a verb meaning “to give someone a grubstake,” and, since at least 1900, shortly after the Klondike Gold Rush, it has been applied to other situations in which a generous benefactor comes through with the funds.

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