1 of 2

noun (1)

mis·​pri·​sion (ˌ)mis-ˈpri-zhən How to pronounce misprision (audio)
: neglect or wrong performance of official duty
: concealment of treason or felony by one who is not a participant in the treason or felony
: seditious conduct against the government or the courts


2 of 2

noun (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.

Examples of misprision in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
On June 27, Blanchard pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and Frazier pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony. Kate Perez, USA TODAY, 6 July 2023 She was later convicted of misprision of a felony and sentenced to probation. Clare Hymes, CBS News, 15 Dec. 2021 The second, misprision of felony, was due to Sullivan’s concealment of the hack. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 5 May 2023 If convicted, Sullivan would face a maximum of five years in prison for the obstruction charge and three years for the misprision charge. Victoria Albert, CBS News, 20 Aug. 2020 Tuma, who frequently works with companies responding to data breaches, says that the more concerning conviction in terms of future precedent is the misprision of felony charge. WIRED, 8 Oct. 2022 In September, Munns pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony — or not reporting a crime — and was sentenced to four years. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, 19 Dec. 2021 Joseph Sullivan has been charged with obstruction of justice and misprision of a felony, which refers to concealing knowledge of a felony from law enforcement officials. Victoria Albert, CBS News, 20 Aug. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'misprision.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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)


First Known Use

Noun (1)

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

Noun (2)

1592, in the meaning defined above

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


Dictionary Entries Near misprision

Cite this Entry

“Misprision.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misprision. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition


mis·​pri·​sion mis-ˈpri-zhən How to pronounce misprision (audio)
: neglectful or wrongful performance of an official duty
: a clerical error in a legal proceeding that can be corrected in a summary proceeding
: 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


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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