Oct. 21, 2023

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 21, 2023 is:

inculcate • \in-KUL-kayt\  • verb

Inculcate is a formal word that has to do with teaching and persuading especially by frequent repetition. If you inculcate someone, you gradually cause the person to fully understand something. If you inculcate an ideal, practice, or behavior in someone, you impress it upon them.

// The teacher inculcated in her students the importance of good study habits.

// The students were inculcated with a sense of responsibility.

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“For the past 50 years, boosters of the cable industry made the case that the marketplace could deliver for American consumers and citizens. But the pursuit of profits has resulted in cable news networks that overwhelmingly appeal to viewers’ worst impulses, overrunning efforts to inculcate good citizenship.” — Kathryn Cramer Brownell, The Atlantic, 13 Aug. 2023

Did you know?

Sometimes before a lesson sinks in, you’ve got to go over it in your mind for a long time. The same is true for when you want to make a path: you have to walk over it again and again. The connection between walking and learning is at the heart of inculcate, which comes from a form of the Latin verb inculcare, meaning “to tread on.” In Latin, inculcare possesses both literal and figurative meanings, referring to either the act of walking over something or to that of impressing something upon the mind, often by way of steady repetition. It is the figurative sense that survives with inculcate, which was first used in English in the 16th century. Since then, the word has kept the meaning of impressing facts, ideas, or ideals on someone through repetition. If you have trouble remembering inculcate’s definition, you may find it helpful to know that it’s a synonym of the word instill (“to impart gradually”), which shares the Latin prefix in-.

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