Definition of supererogation
: the act of performing more than is required by duty, obligation, or need
supererogation was our Word of the Day on 12/23/2010. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: 1526
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up supererogation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).