Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the political leader of a country that does not have a king or queen

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun president is a borrowing from Latin and French and was first used in English in the 14th century. The meaning of ‘head of state’ dates from the late 18th century.


Today is Presidents‘ Day, or more correctly Washington’s Birthday, a federal holiday held in the US to celebrate the country’s first president, George Washington, whose birthday is on 22 February. The day is a holiday in most states, but some observe it on a different day and different states honour different presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday also falls in February, and Thomas Jefferson. The fact that Presidents‘ Day is not the official name leads to variations in punctuation, with some states celebrating President’s Day or Presidents Day instead. Meanwhile other states do not use the name at all, preferring ‘Washington’s Birthday’, ‘George Washington Day’, or another formulation. One tradition associated with Presidents‘ Day is the eating of cherry pie, in acknowledgement of a famous apocryphal story about George Washington’s childhood when he freely confessed to having damaged a cherry tree belonging to his father.


“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
(Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

“It’s not doing what is right that’s hard for a President. It’s knowing what is right.”
(Lyndon Johnson)

Related words

chancellor, premier, prime minister, vice-president

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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