Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for May 8, 2020 is:

verboten • ver-BOH-tun  • adjective

: forbidden; especially : prohibited by dictate


“An array of other city meetings have been canceled…. Scott said his office is working as fast as it can to find new, 21st-century solutions to the needs of the community and of city government at a time when physical gatherings are verboten.” — Kevin Rector and Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun, 30 Mar. 2020

“Yet divorce was still frowned on in British society—and marrying a divorcee whose former spouse was still alive was verboten according to the Church of England. This is why Edward VIII had to abdicate the throne for his brother George VI: He couldn’t be both the head of his country’s Church—a role established, ironically, by his divorced ancestor Henry VIII—and the husband of a divorced woman with two living spouses.” — Kate Williams,, 22 Mar. 2020

Did you know?

Despite its spelling, the adjective verboten has nothing to do with verb, or any of the other words in English related to Latin verbum. Rather, verboten comes from German, and originally from Old High German farboten, the past participle of the verb farbioten, meaning “to forbid.” (Forbid itself derives from Old English forbēodan, a relative of farbioten.) Verboten is used to describe things that are forbidden according to a law or a highly regarded authority. There also exists the rarely used noun verboten, meaning “something forbidden by authority,” as in “well-established verbotens.”

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