Word of the Day

lèse-majesté

audio pronunciation
February 22, 2007
noun
\layz-MAJ-uh-stee\
Definition
1
a : a crime (as treason) committed against a sovereign power b : an offense violating the dignity of a ruler as the representative of a sovereign power
2
: a detraction from or affront to dignity or importance
Examples
Some family members view Ty's criticism of his grandfather as an act of lèse-majesté.
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Did You Know?
"Lèse-majesté" (or "lese majesty," as it is also styled in English publications) comes into English by way of Middle French, from the Latin "laesa majestas," which literally means "injured majesty." The English term can conceivably cover any offense against a sovereign power or its ruler, from treason to a simple breach of etiquette. "Lèse-majesté" has also acquired a more lighthearted or ironic meaning, that of an insult or impudence to a particularly pompous or self-important person or organization. As such, it may be applied to a relatively inoffensive act that has been exaggeratedly treated as if it were a great affront.

*Indicates the sense illustrated by the example sentence.
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