noun (1)
mis·​pri·​sion | \ (ˌ)mis-ˈpri-zhən How to pronounce misprision (audio) \

Definition of misprision

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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


noun (2)

Definition of misprision (Entry 2 of 2)

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.

First Known Use of misprision

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1592, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for misprision

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French mesprisun error, wrongdoing, from mesprendre to take by mistake, from mes- mis- + prendre to take, from Latin prehendere to seize — more at get

Noun (2)


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The first known use of misprision was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Misprision.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misprision. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for misprision


mis·​pri·​sion | \ mis-ˈpri-zhən How to pronounce misprision (audio) \

Legal Definition of misprision

1 : neglectful or wrongful performance of an official duty
2 : a clerical error in a legal proceeding that can be corrected in a summary proceeding
3 : the concealment of a treason or felony and failure to report it to the prosecuting authorities by a person who has not committed it misprision of felony misprision of treason

History and Etymology for misprision

Anglo-French, error, wrongdoing, from Old French, from mesprendre to make a mistake, from mes- wrongly + prendre to take, from Latin prehendere to seize

More from Merriam-Webster on misprision

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for misprision

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about misprision


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