Pronounced: a-muh-RAN(T)-thuhn, adj

Notes: Quite a mouthful, with one particularly annoying definition

Yesterday’s word

The word malfeasance is probably well known; the meaning is “an illegal action, especially by a public official”.

First usage

It’s not new; it goes back to the mid-1600s

Background / Comments

The word comes from Anglo-Norman malfaisance (wrongdoing), which in turn came from Latin malefacere (to do wrong), from mal- (bad) and facere (to do). I recognized the ‘mal’ part of the word, but didn’t realize that the word is normally used about public officials. As for the similar-looking words I mentioned yesterday, nonfeasance (which I’ve heard of) means “a failure to act when there is an obligation to” and misfeasance (which I did not know before) means “an unlawful exercise of a lawful act” — think of it as “abusing one’s authority”. Come to think of it, misfeasance may have been a better choice… oh, well… hindsight.

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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