Word of the Day – Immaculate

Word of the Day : March 29, 2023


adjective ih-MAK-yuh-lut

What It Means

  • Immaculate means “spotlessly clean” or “without flaw or error.” In botany and zoology, the word describes beings that have no colored spots or marks.
  • // Despite the constant demands of school and fatherhood, Javier kept an immaculate home, tidying up whenever the opportunity arose.
  • // Even a minor scandal has the power to tarnish an otherwise immaculate reputation.
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“The cleanse on Lunar New Year’s Eve is one of many customs—really, superstitions—taught to me by my late mother and father. It’s part of a larger idea that everything should be immaculate, including the body and the home, which should also be tidied and, most importantly, swept out. This is done to lay a perfect groundwork for the coming year: spotless and unblemished by past trouble.” — Lan Samantha Chang, Vogue, 20 Jan. 2023

Did you Know?

You may already use the word immaculate flawlessly, but most of us have a spottier history with its antonymous counterpart, maculate, which means “marked with spots” or “impure.” Both words can be traced back to macula, a Latin noun (plural maculae or maculas) that scientists still use for spots on the skin, on the wings of insects, and on the surface of celestial objects. Maculate has not marked as many pages as immaculate, but it appears occasionally, especially as an antithesis to immaculate. The pair is used, for example, by Clive James in a 2019 column in Prospect Magazine, in reference to Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey: “… the story sweeps along in immaculate iambic pentameter. In only one small aspect is the immaculateness maculate.”