mis·​be·​got·​ten | \ ˌmis-bi-ˈgä-tᵊn How to pronounce misbegotten (audio) \

Definition of misbegotten

1 : unlawfully conceived : illegitimate a misbegotten child
2a : having a disreputable or improper origin : ill-conceived antiquated and misbegotten tax laws— R. M. Blough
b : contemptible, deformed a misbegotten scoundrel

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

In the beginning, there was bigietan, and bigietan begot beyeten; then in the days of Middle English beyeten begot begeten, and from thence sprung misbegotten. That description may be a bit flowery, but it accurately traces the path that led to misbegotten. All of the Old English and Middle English ancestors listed above basically meant the same thing as the modern beget-that is, "to father" or "to produce as an effect or outgrowth." That linguistic line brought forth misbegotten by adding the prefix mis- (meaning "wrong," "bad," or "not") in the mid-1500s.

Examples of misbegotten in a Sentence

a misbegotten child who never knew his father

Recent Examples on the Web

That 'rubbish' revolves around the misbegotten players who have worn it in the past, including Khalid Boulahrouz, Franco Di Santo, Radamel Falcao, Steve Sidwell and more recently Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata. SI.com, "Tammy Abraham Relishes Wearing 'Cursed' Number 9 Shirt at Chelsea," 24 July 2019 The city, in pursuit of progressive values, has made the San Francisco tax code a misbegotten hodgepodge of financial chicanery. Owen Thomas, SFChronicle.com, "San Francisco, why are you so taxing?," 19 June 2019 The progressive framework on this point, then, is fundamentally wrong, and left-wing partisans go on to apply this misbegotten principle inconsistently. Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, "Corporations Are People, Unborn Children Aren’t," 11 June 2019 This was an allusion to the GOP’s misbegotten nomination of Roy Moore last fall that gave a Senate seat to Democrat Doug Jones. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Republican Senate Salvage Job," 9 May 2018 The investment opportunity exists because as the U.S. economy slowly recovered from the 2008 crisis, government agencies and financial institutions wanted to clean up their books and auctioned off billions of dollars of misbegotten credits. Cezary Podkul, WSJ, "‘I Can Be the Bank’: Individual Investors Buy Busted Mortgages," 20 Nov. 2018 Seattle’s efforts, such as the misbegotten jobs tax, might seem noble on the surface. Jon Talton, The Seattle Times, "Washington’s paradox: Progressive politics but regressive tax system," 23 Oct. 2018 Let’s hope respect for dignity prevails and this misbegotten plan dies. Sally Satel And, WSJ, "Oregon Overshoots on Opioids," 16 Aug. 2018 Or, the most likely explanation: Is Mother Nature on the verge of engulfing the White House, and eventually all of America, thus vanquishing the whole misbegotten human experiment? Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Sinkhole/Possible Metaphor Appears Outside White House," 22 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'misbegotten.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of misbegotten

1546, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about misbegotten

Listen to Our Podcast about misbegotten

Statistics for misbegotten

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for misbegotten

The first known use of misbegotten was in 1546

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for misbegotten



English Language Learners Definition of misbegotten

formal : badly planned or thought out

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on misbegotten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with misbegotten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for misbegotten

Spanish Central: Translation of misbegotten

Nglish: Translation of misbegotten for Spanish Speakers

Comments on misbegotten

What made you want to look up misbegotten? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


friendly or mild

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!