Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for December 19, 2019 is:

haggard • HAG-urd  • adjective

1 of a hawk : not tamed

2 a : wild in appearance

b : having a worn or emaciated appearance : gaunt


“When I met her at her subsidized apartment in the fall of 2018, she still had the haggard air of someone learning how to use the subway, navigate welfare programs, and raise two children by herself in an alien country.” — Doug Bock Clark, GQ, 26 Mar. 2019

“East Avenue, the town’s main drag, is fronted by stately if slightly haggard red-brick buildings, including the historic Cottrill Opera House (currently raising funds for its restoration) as well as several art galleries and antiques shops….” — Anna Altman, The Washingtonian, 15 Jan. 2019

Did you know?

Haggard comes from falconry, the sport of hunting with a trained bird of prey. The birds used in falconry were not bred in captivity until very recently. Traditionally, falconers trained wild birds that were either taken from the nest when quite young or trapped as adults. A bird trapped as an adult is termed a haggard, from the Middle French hagard. Such a bird is notoriously wild and difficult to train, and it wasn’t long before the falconry sense of haggard was being applied in an extended way to a “wild” and intractable person. Next, the word came to express the way the human face looks when a person is exhausted, anxious, or terrified. Today, the most common meaning of haggard is “gaunt” or “worn.”

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