• synonyms


[mis-prizh-uh n]
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  1. a neglect or violation of official duty by one in office.
  2. failure by one not an accessory to prevent or notify the authorities of treason or felony.
  3. a contempt against the government, monarch, or courts, as sedition, lese majesty, or a contempt of court.
  4. a mistake; misunderstanding.
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Origin of misprision1

1375–1425; late Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French mesprision, equivalent to mes- mis-1 + prision < Latin prēnsiōn-, variant of prehēnsiōn- (stem of prehēnsiō) prehension


[mis-prizh-uh n]
  1. contempt or scorn.
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Origin of misprision2

First recorded in 1580–90; misprise + -ion
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for misprision

Historical Examples

  • I overlook the misprision of blasphemy on your part, for you didn't know what you said?

    Valentine M'Clutchy, The Irish Agent

    William Carleton

  • If they were true, it was misprision of treason in him to have concealed the matter for a twelvemonth.

    Sir Walter Ralegh

    William Stebbing

  • “You were guilty of misprision of treason in not revealing it,” remarked the Earl.

    Guy Fawkes

    William Harrison Ainsworth

  • Fisher, the guiltiest of all, was sent to the Tower for misprision.

  • These pert, bird-like ways formed her shield against ridicule and misprision.

British Dictionary definitions for misprision


    1. a failure to inform the proper authorities of the commission of an act of treason
    2. the deliberate concealment of the commission of a felony
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Word Origin

C15: via Anglo-French from Old French mesprision error, from mesprendre to mistake, from mes- mis- 1 + prendre to take


noun archaic
  1. contempt
  2. failure to appreciate the value of something
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Word Origin

C16: from misprize
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for misprision


"wrong action, a failure on the part of authority," early 15c., from Anglo-French mesprisioun "mistake, error, wrong action or speech," from Old French mesprision "mistake, wrongdoing, fault, blame, crime," from mespris, past participle of mesprendre "to mistake, act wrongly, trespass, transgress, break a law," from mes- "wrongly" (see mis- (2)) + prendre "take," from Latin prendere, contracted from prehendere "seize" (see prehensile).

In 16c., misprision of treason was used for lesser degrees of guilt (those not subject to capital punishment), especially for knowing of treasonable actions or plots but not informing the authorities. This led to the common supposition in legal writers that the word means "failure to denounce" a crime.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper