commanding respect because of great age or impressive dignity; worthy of veneration or reverence, as because of high office or noble character: a venerable member of Congress.

a title for someone proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church to have attained the first degree of sanctity or of an Anglican arch deacon (of places, buildings, etc.) hallowed by religious, historic, or other lofty associations: the venerable halls of the abbey.

impressive or interesting because of age, 

antique appearance, etc.: a venerable oak tree.

extremely old or obsolete; ancient: a venerable automobile.


a venerable person.

How ‘F-Bomb’ (And Other Words) End Up In The Dictionary

In 2017 alone, Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 new words to the dictionary. Noah Webster himself might have struggled to define these new English terms — such as binge-watch, humblebrag, photobomb, NSFW, truther, face-palm and listicle.

But language is a “living thing” says lexicographer Kory Stamper, an associate editor at Merriam-Webster — and it’s constantly shifting in use and meaning.

“A lot of times people assume that English as we speak it is something that was curated maybe by some dudes in frilly shirts back in the 1700s,” Stamper explains. “But, in fact, a language is … always influenced by the people who come in and speak it or come in and conquer it.”

Stamper’s new book, Word by Word, describes the painstaking process of keeping the dictionary up-to-date. Five years ago, for instance, Merriam-Webster added the term f-bomb to their pages — an addition that reflected, Stamper says, the term’s widespread, sustained and meaningful use in society.

“People assume that … there’s boundaries set around [the English language], and that all the good stuff is on the inside and everything on the outside is bad or not worth using,” she says. “But it’s all worth using, and all of it is required to make the language flourish.”

Photo: Marian Carrasquero/NPR