Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for April 20, 2020 is:

peccant • PEK-unt  • adjective

1 : guilty of a moral offense : sinning

2 : violating a principle or rule : faulty


“Cavil at Dylan Thomas’s overdoings; praise this bit and dispraise that bit; but there he was, there he is, an emblem of poetry, which is Being itself…. And the world honored him for it, while chopping him to pieces…. It’s the loony, peccant villagers of Under Milk Wood…. It’s Auntie Hannah in ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales,’ who liked port, and who stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush.'” — James Parker, The Atlantic, December 2014

“The book stands for all the right things, and is peccant only in two minor but irritating ways. That there are occasional errors—’deprecatingly’ for ‘depreciatingly,’ ‘a bookstore which’ for ‘a bookstore that,’ a couple of faulty agreements and a captious attack on the useful word ‘demythify’—is not so much Newman as human.” — John Simon, Paradigms Lost, 1980

Did you know?

Peccant comes from the Latin verb peccare, which means “to sin,” “to commit a fault,” or “to stumble,” and is related to the better-known English word peccadillo (“a slight offense”). Etymologists have suggested that peccare might be related to Latin ped- or pes, meaning “foot,” by way of an unattested adjective, peccus, which may have been used to mean “having an injured foot” or “stumbling.” Whether or not a connection truly exists between peccant and peccus, peccant itself involves stumbling of a figurative kind—making errors, for example, or falling into immoral, corrupt, or sinful behavior.

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