Word of the Day : December 4, 2016

muckrake

play
verb MUCK-rayk

Definition

: to search out and publicly expose real or apparent misconduct of a prominent individual or business

Did You Know?

The noun muckrake (literally, a rake for muck, i.e., manure) rose out of the dung heap and into the realm of literary metaphor in 1684. That's when John Bunyan used it in Pilgrim's Progress to represent man's preoccupation with earthly things. "The Man with the Muckrake," he wrote, "could look no way but downward." In a 1906 speech, President Teddy Roosevelt recalled Bunyan's words while railing against journalists he thought focused too much on exposing corruption in business and government. Roosevelt called them "the men with the muck-rakes" and implied that they needed to learn "when to stop raking the muck, and to look upward." Investigative reporters weren't insulted; they adopted the term muckraker as a badge of honor. And soon English speakers were using the verb muckrake for the practice of exposing misconduct.



Examples

Arn is an aggressive reporter, never afraid to ask difficult questions, hound evasive sources, or muckrake when things appear suspect.

"From his groundbreaking days of editing the iconic liberal magazines Ramparts and Scanlan's Monthly in the 1960s and '70s to his reliably irreverent columns for newspapers …, Mr. [Warren] Hinckle delighted in tweaking anyone in charge of anything and muckraking for what he fiercely saw as the common good." — Kevin Fagan, The San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Aug. 2016



Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to create a verb meaning "to expose to shame or blame by means of falsehood or misrepresentation": _ ra _ u _ e.

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