The Wager

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Free daily dose of word power from Merriam-Webster's experts
  • 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.

  • Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 19, 2019 is:

    issuable • \ISH-oo-uh-bul\  • adjective

    1 : open to contest, debate, or litigation

    2 : authorized for issue

    3 : possible as a result or consequence


    "The common shares issuable upon exercise of the options are subject to a four-month hold period from the original date of grant." — Yahoo! Finance, 25 July 2019

    "Questions calling for inadmissible proof which is damaging and prejudicial should be objected to on any and every possible ground. Even if an attorney appears to be making an excessive number of objections, this is preferable to admitting without contest issuable evidence devastating in its effect." — Mason Ladd, Case and Comment, Vol. 44, No. 6, 1922

    Did you know?

    Although issuable now tends to appear in financial contexts (such as in reference to shares that are eligible to be issued, or made available, according to a company's articles of incorporation), it was originally used in the late 16th century as a legal term: an issuable matter was one that was open to contest, debate, or litigation. Within a century, though, the word had taken on the "authorized for issue" meaning that it most commonly has today. In making its home in the world of finance, issuable is carrying on a family tradition. In the early 14th century, its predecessor issue began being used in plural to refer to proceeds from a source of revenue, such as an estate. Issue itself traces back to Latin exire, meaning "to go out."

  • Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 18, 2019 is:

    bivouac • \BIV-uh-wak\  • verb

    1 : to make a usually temporary encampment under little or no shelter : camp

    2 : to take shelter often temporarily

    3 : to provide temporary quarters for


    The search party bivouacked under a nearby ledge until the storm passed.

    "Isakson said Native American artifacts were found on the site, along with plenty of evidence to suggest Union soldiers had bivouacked there after the Civil War." — Lawrence Specker, The Huntsville (Alabama) Times, 17 Mar. 2019

    Did you know?

    In the 1841 edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster observed bivouac to be a French borrowing having military origins. He defined the noun bivouac as "the guard or watch of a whole army, as in cases of great danger of surprise or attack" and the verb as "to watch or be on guard, as a whole army." The French word is derived from the Low German word biwacht, a combination of bi ("by") and wacht ("guard"). In some German dialects, the word was used specifically for a patrol of citizens who assisted the town watch at night. Today, bivouac has less to do with guarding and patrolling and more about having shelter.