Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for September 4, 2019 is:

minim • MIN-im  • noun

1 : a musical half note

2 : something very minute

3 : a unit of capacity equal to 1/60 fluid dram


“And yet there are transcendent sparks in [writer Raymond Carver’s work that] I keep going back to, moments of human communion that raise his people briefly above the wreckage of their worlds.… What’s notable here is the clause he felt able to let her go, and also what he does immediately after these lines: ‘He brought his arm down and turned to his children.’ … There’s a minim of grace in that gesture, of self-forgiveness and, yes, of hope, however fugitive.” — William Giraldi, Commonweal, 23 Apr. 2019

“He thanked me with a smiling nod, measured out a few minims of the red tincture and added one of the powders.” — Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1886

Did you know?

Like the more common minimum, minim derives from the Latin word minimus, meaning “least” or “smallest.” Musicians were the first to note its significance in the 15th century as a word for the half note. Chirographers soon adopted it as a word for a single downstroke in penmanship (such as any of the three in the letter m), and after careful analysis, apothecaries prescribed minim as a word for their smallest unit of liquid capacity. English speakers have also embraced minim as a general noun referring to things that are very small and as an adjective meaning “of the smallest size,” as in “a minim amount.”

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