Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 6, 2021 is:

pugilism • PYOO-juh-liz-um  • noun

: boxing


“Floyd Mayweather says he’d be willing to come out of retirement to fight Conor McGregor again—but only for, say, ‘an easy $300 million.’ Which just goes to show that Floyd—in finance as well as pugilism—remains a big fan of the must-score system.” — Dwight Perry, The Seattle Times, 2 Oct. 2020

“Born on June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, William Neeson originally had his eyes set on pugilism, not acting. In 2014, Neeson recalled being 9 years old and attending Sunday Mass when his parish priest, Father Darragh, announced he was starting up a youth boxing club.” — Jake Rossen, Mental Floss, 18 Nov. 2020

Did you know?

The sport of boxing had its Olympic initiation more than 2,500 years ago in the 23rd Olympiad of 688 BCE. The ancient Romans adopted the sport from the Greeks, and we adopted the word pugilism from them: the Latin word pugil means “boxer.” (The word is related to the Latin pugnus, meaning “fist.”) Boxing faded out with the decline of the Roman Empire, but resurged in popularity in the 18th century. By the century’s end, pugilist and pugilism were firmly entrenched in the English lexicon, and pugilism now sees additional use in reference to metaphorical sparring, as in a political debate.

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