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August 20, 2012

Word of the Day

  • marplot
  • audio pronunciation
  • \MAHR-plaht\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: one who frustrates or ruins a plan or undertaking by meddling
  • EXAMPLES

"If Will hadn't been such a nosy marplot," said Darlene, "our plan to surprise Brenda with a party for her birthday might have gone off without a hitch."

  • DID YOU KNOW?

Beginning in the 17th century, people liked to prefix "mar-" to nouns to create a term for someone who mars, or spoils, something. A mar-joy was bad enough, but even worse was a mar-all. Although today the word "plot" often carries an implication of secrecy or ill intent, the "plot" used in the formation of "marplot" simply meant "a plan for the accomplishment of something." A marplot, therefore, can really mess up a perfectly good thing. The word may not have been invented by English playwright Susannah Centlivre, but it first surfaces in print in her 1709 play The Busy Body. That title refers to a character named Marplot, who misguidedly gets in the way of the lovers in the play.

Test Your Memory: What recent Word of the Day refers to a situation in which a speaker switches the first sounds of two or more words? The answer is ...

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