Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for July 4, 2021 is:
patriot PAY-tree-ut noun
: one who loves and supports his or her country
“He had never been a very conscious patriot, but it vexed him to see [the United States] treated as little better than a vulgar smell in his friend’s nostrils, and he finally broke out and swore that they were the greatest country in the world, that they could put all Europe into their breeches’ pockets, and that an American who spoke ill of them ought to be carried home in irons and compelled to live in Boston.” — Henry James, The American, 1877
“‘The brave and spirited ‘Ghost Army’ veterans [members of top-secret U.S. Army units] made critical contributions to American victories and successes during World War II,’ said Senator [Edward] Markey…. ‘This bill seeks to lift their contributions out of the darkness and honor these patriots for their courage, skill, and bravery, which successfully guided America towards the Allied victory in World War II.'” — Congressional Documents and Publications, 28 May 2021
Did you know?
To be called a patriot—the word ultimately derives from Greek patrios, meaning “of one’s father,”—is today considered an honor, but it wasn’t always this way. For much of the 17th century, to be deemed a “good patriot” was to be a lover of one’s country who agreed on political and/or religious matters with whoever was doing the deeming. British loyalists applied the word like a badge to supporters of the ruling monarchy, but then the word took on negative connotations as it was applied first to hypocritical patriots—those who espoused loyalty to the Crown but whose actions belied that espousal, and then to outright anti-royalists. But in the 18th century, American writers, including Benjamin Franklin, embraced patriot to define the colonists who took action against British control. After the American Revolutionary War, patriot settled back into more neutral use, but to this day writers on both sides of the aisle grapple over the word.