Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for March 1, 2020 is:

interpolate • in-TER-puh-layt  • verb

1 a : to alter or corrupt (something, such as a text) by inserting new or foreign matter

b : to insert (words) into a text or into a conversation

2 : to insert between other things or parts : intercalate

3 : to estimate values of (data or a function) between two known values

4 : to make insertions (as of estimated values)


“But his reputation rested equally on his abilities as a composer and arranger for large ensembles, interpolating bebop’s crosshatched rhythms and extended improvisations into lush tapestries.” — Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times, 26 Jan. 2020

“Both movies interpolate familiar actors’ evocatively animated faces into stylized worlds; the effect is gorgeous but unsettling, less like watching a movie in a new medium than like watching it in a dream.” — Judy Berman, Time, 9 Sept. 2019

Did you know?

Interpolate comes from Latin interpolare, a verb with various meanings, among them “to refurbish,” “to alter,” and “to falsify.” (The polare part comes from polire, meaning “to polish.”)  Interpolate entered English in the 17th century and was applied early on to the alteration (and in many cases corruption) of texts by insertion of additional material. Modern use of interpolate still suggests the insertion of something extraneous or spurious, as in “she interpolated her own commentary into the report.”

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