Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for September 20, 2019 is:

misprision • mis-PRIZH-un  • noun

1 a : neglect or wrong performance of official duty

b : concealment of treason or felony by one who is not a participant in the treason or felony

c : seditious conduct against the government or the courts

2 : misunderstanding, misinterpretation


The article asserts that the health guru’s recommendations are based on a misprision of what it means to be healthy.

“The charge, misprision of a felony, is one prosecutors often deploy against defendants who have agreed to help the government make its case.” — Grace Toohey, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 8 Mar. 2019

Did you know?

All but one of the following words traces back to Latin prehendere, meaning “to seize.” Which word doesn’t belong?

apprehend – comprehend – misprision – misprize – prison – surprise

It’s easy to see the prehendere connection in apprehend and comprehend, whereas you may be surprised that surprise is from prehendere (via Anglo-French susprendre, meaning “to capture” or “to take by surprise”). Prison, too, is from prehendere by way of Anglo-French. And misprision comes to us by way of Anglo-French mesprisun (“error, wrongdoing”), from mesprendre (“to take by mistake”), itself from prehendere. The only word that’s out of place is misprize, meaning “to despise” or “to undervalue.” It’s ultimately from Latin pretium, meaning “value,” but—in a trick move that perhaps only English could pull off—misprize has also given us a related noun meaning “contempt, scorn,” in the form of an etymologically distinct misprision.

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