Word of the Day : March 8, 2011


verb DEEM


1 : to come to think or judge : consider

2 : to have an opinion : believe

Did You Know?

In the Middle Ages, "demen" was a fateful word. Closely related to "doom," this precursor of "deem" meant "to act as a judge" or "to sentence, condemn, or decree." These meanings passed to "deem" itself, but we haven't used "deem" to mean "legally condemn" since the early 17th century. Though "deem" is still frequently used in law contexts, today it means "judge" only in a broader sense of "to decide (something specified) regarding," as in "the act was deemed unlawful" or "the defendant is deemed to have agreed to the contract." Outside of the law, "deem" usually means simply "to consider." Some usage commentators consider "deem" pretentious, but its use is well established in both literary and journalistic contexts. We deem it perfectly acceptable.


Based on the testimony of two forensic psychologists, the judge deemed the defendant competent to stand trial.

"By the end of Notre Dame's two snowbound days at a hotel near O'Hare, Tyrone Nash had digested an entire season of 'Mad Men' and deemed it Emmy-worthy." -- From an article by Brian Hamilton in the Chicago Tribune, February 3, 2011

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "flounce," our Word of the Day from February 17? The answer is ...


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