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Word of the Day
Monday, March 05, 2018

Definitions for peculate

  1. to steal or take dishonestly (money, especially public funds, or property entrusted to one's care); embezzle.

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Citations for peculate
The neglect of the Treasurer and the supineness of the President gave him the opportunity to peculate. , "A Defaulting Secretary," New York Times, October 14, 1884
Right off the top of his head, James Madison could think of a lot of good reasons to impeach a President. He ticked off this list: “He might lose his capacity after his appointment. He might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers.” (To peculate is to embezzle.) It’s a very good list. Members of Congress might want to consult it. Jill Lepore, “How Impeachment Ended Up in the Constitution,” The New Yorker, May 18, 2017
Origin of peculate
1740-1750
Peculate derives from the Latin past participle and noun pecūlātus “embezzled, embezzlement,” derivative of the verb pecūlārī “to embezzle,” and itself a derivative of pecūlium “wealth in cattle, private property.” Latin suffers from an embarras de richesses of terms relating to misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement, and peculation. The Latin root noun behind all the corruption is pecu “cattle, large cattle,” the source of pecūnia “movable property, riches, wealth, money.” Latin pecu comes all but unchanged from Proto-Indo-European pek-, peku- “wealth, livestock, movable property.” Peku- becomes fehu- in Germanic, feoh “cattle, goods, money” in Old English, and fee in English. Peculate entered English in the 18th century.