Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 23, 2020 is:

misbegotten • miss-bih-GAH-tun  • adjective

1 : unlawfully conceived : illegitimate

2 a : having a disreputable or improper origin : ill-conceived

b : contemptible, deformed


The city’s misbegotten attempt to install new traffic signals at the busy intersection only caused greater confusion for motorists.

“Stillness fills the remaining six pictures. Paradoxically, each presents evidence of human activity: a harbor city, a partly constructed building, a garbage truck, a muddy road, a cat sitting curbside and a rusty engine from a military plane that crashed in 1942 and now rests in the landscape, like a misbegotten icon.” — David Pagel, The Los Angeles Times, 4 Dec. 2019

Did you know?

In the beginning, there was the Old English begiten, and begiten begot the Middle English begotyn, and begotyn begot the modern English begotten, and from thence sprung misbegotten. That description may be a bit flowery, but it accurately traces the path that led to misbegotten. All of the Old English and Middle English ancestors listed above basically meant the same thing as the modern begotten, the past participle of beget, meaning “to father” or “to produce as an effect or outgrowth.” That linguistic line brought forth misbegotten by adding the prefix mis- (meaning “wrong,” “bad,” or “not”) in the mid-1500s.

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