Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for December 30, 2020 is:

prerogative • prih-RAH-guh-tiv  • noun

1 a : an exclusive or special right, power, or privilege: such as

(1) : one belonging to an office or an official body

(2) : one belonging to a person, group, or class of individuals

(3) : one possessed by a nation as an attribute of sovereignty

b : the discretionary power inhering in the British Crown

2 : a distinctive excellence


“The prerogative of civilian leaders to decide military matters is a key tenet of American constitutional governance and healthy civilian-military relations….” — Jason Dempsey, The New Republic, 13 Apr. 2020

“Today we assume that the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly will protect even unpopular speech and demonstrations against such claims of governmental prerogative. But it was not always so. When the ACLU was founded in 1920, protestors were being criminally prosecuted for saying unpopular things—like criticizing the draft during World War I.” — Susan N. Herman, Time, 20 Nov. 2015

Did you know?

In ancient Rome, voting at legal assemblies was done by group, with the majority in a group determining its vote. The group chosen to vote first on an issue was called the praerogativa (that term traces to a verb meaning “to ask for an opinion before another”). Because the first vote was considered to be of great importance, Latin speakers also used the noun praerogativa to mean “preference” and later “privilege.” As praerogativa passed through Anglo-French and Middle English, its spelling shifted to create the noun we know today.

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