su·​per·​er·​o·​ga·​tion | \ ˌsü-pər-ˌer-ə-ˈgā-shən How to pronounce supererogation (audio) \

Definition of supererogation

: the act of performing more than is required by duty, obligation, or need

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English speakers took "supererogation" from the Medieval Latin verb supererogare, which means "to perform beyond the call of duty." That Latin word, in turn, derives from the prefix super-, meaning "over and above," plus erogare, meaning "to expend public funds after asking the consent of the people." The earliest English uses of "supererogation" occurred in religious contexts, where it often referred to the doing of good deeds beyond those required for salvation. By the late 1500s, "supererogation" was being applied to any act performed above and beyond obligation.

First Known Use of supererogation

1526, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for supererogation

Medieval Latin supererogation-, supererogatio, from supererogare to perform beyond the call of duty, from Late Latin, to expend in addition, from Latin super- + erogare to expend public funds after asking the consent of the people, from e- + rogare to ask — more at right

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The first known use of supererogation was in 1526

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Cite this Entry

“Supererogation.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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