Word of the Day: Mercurial

1mer·cu·ri·al  adjective \(ˌ)mər-ˈkyr-ē-əl\

: changing moods quickly and often

: changing often : very changeable

: very lively and quick

Full Definition of MERCURIAL

1:  of, relating to, or born under the planet Mercury
2:  having qualities of eloquence, ingenuity, or thievishness attributed to the god Mercury or to the influence of the planet Mercury
3:  characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness of mood <a mercurial temper>
4:  of, relating to, containing, or caused by mercury
mer·cu·ri·al·ly  adverb
mer·cu·ri·al·ness  noun

Examples of MERCURIAL

  1. <the boss’s mood is so mercurial that we never know how he’s going to react to anything>
  2. Few moments in English history have been more hungry for the future, its mercurial possibilities and its hope of richness, than the spring of 1603. —Adam Nicolson, God’s Secretaries, 2003
  3. Though you could see all three places in one day, each of them makes you want to stay or to keep returning to watch the effects of the changing weather and the mercurial Sicilian light. —Francine Prose, Atlantic, December 2002
  4. Some scientists suggest that because manic-depressive patients are ever riding the bio-chemical express between emotional extremes, their brains end up more complexly wired and remain more persistently plastic than do the brains of less mercurial sorts. —Natalie Angier, New York Times, 12 Oct. 1993
  5. Still grinning, still miming, he samba-ed across the floor … and started in on the dishes with a vigor that would have prostrated his mercurial cousin. —T. Coraghessan Boyle, Harper’s, October 1987


First Known Use: 14th century

Related to MERCURIAL

capricious, changeable, changeful, flickery, fluctuating, fluid, inconsistent, inconstant, fickle, mutable, skittish, temperamental, uncertain, unpredictable, unsettled, unstable, unsteady, variable, volatile
certain, changeless, constant, immutable, invariable, predictable, settled, stable, stationary, steady, unchangeable, unchanging, unvarying

2mer·cu·ri·al   noun \(ˌ)mər-ˈkyr-ē-əl\

Definition of MERCURIAL

:  a pharmaceutical or chemical containing mercury


First Known Use: 1676

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