Word of the Day : July 18, 2014

lèse-majesté

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noun layz-MAJ-uh-stee

Definition

1 : an offense violating the dignity of sovereign

2 : a detraction from or affront to dignity or importance

Did You Know?

"Lèse-majesté" (or "lese majesty," as it is also styled in English publications) came into English by way of Middle French, from Latin "laesa majestas," which literally means "injured majesty." The English term can conceivably cover any offense against a sovereign power or its ruler, from treason to a simple breach of etiquette. "Lèse-majesté" has also acquired a more lighthearted or ironic meaning, that of an insult or impudence to a particularly pompous or self-important person or organization. As such, it may be applied to a relatively inoffensive act that has been exaggeratedly treated as if it were a great affront.


Examples

"That kind of suppression actually harkens back … to the 1976 coup, when the penalty for lèse majesté was increased to a maximum of 15 years in prison per count.…" -David Streckfuss, Vice News, June 3, 2014

"You can look it up, but every man who beat Roger Federer this year lost his next match. Maybe there is a psychic price to pay for lèse-majesté." - Roger Kaplan, The American Spectator, June 4, 2014



Test Your Memory

Which of the following previously featured words can mean "gloomy or surly": "incongruous," "palmy," or "saturnine"? The answer is …


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