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Word Curio

August 5, 2020

Word of the Day: Burke

1 CQ

Word of the Day : October 23, 2017

burke \BERK\ verb


1 : to suppress quietly or indirectly

2 : bypass, avoid


The mob boss dropped a few well-timed bribes to prosecutors in an effort to burke any investigation into possible wrongdoing.

"There is, however, a respectable and reasonable ethical argument against clinical trials of correctional treatment methods which must not be burked in our enthusiasm for the acquisition of knowledge." — Norval Morris, "Should Research Design and Scientific Merits Be Evaluated?," in Experimentation with Human Beings, 1972

Did You Know?

When an elderly pensioner died at the Edinburgh boarding house of William Hare in 1827, the proprietor and his friend William Burke decided to sell the body to a local anatomy school. The sale was so lucrative that they decided to make sure they could repeat it. They began luring nameless wanderers (who were not likely to be missed) into the house, getting them drunk, then smothering or strangling them and selling the bodies. The two disposed of at least 15 victims before murdering a local woman whose disappearance led to their arrest. At Burke's execution (by hanging), irate crowds shouted "Burke him!" As a result of the case, the word burke became a byword first for death by suffocation or strangulation and eventually for any cover-up.

Aired October 23, 2017

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