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

sere • SEER  • adjective

1 : being dried and withered

2 archaic : threadbare


“We had a beautiful day for our picnic. November dreamed that it was May. The air was soft and mellow, with pale, aerial mists in the valleys and over the leafless beeches on the western hill. The sere stubble fields brooded in glamour, and the sky was pearly blue.” — L. M. Montgomery, The Story Girl, 1911

“California’s diverse ecosystem—its lush coastal mountain ranges in the north; its flat, fertile valleys down its middle; and its snow-capped spine of the Sierra casting a rain shadow over the sere Mojave desert—have evolved over eons.” — Joseph Serna, The Los Angeles Times, 21 Dec. 2020

Did you know?

Sere has not wandered very far from its origins—it derives from the Old English word sear, meaning “dry,” which traces back to the same ancient root that gave Old High German, Greek, and Lithuanian words for drying out and withering. Several nouns sere also exist; one is an obscure nominal form of the adjective, but the others are etymologically unrelated to the adjective or to one another. The most common of the nouns is a 20th-century coinage from the Latin word series (meaning “series”), which refers to a series of ecological communities formed in ecological succession.

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