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November 19, 2019

Word of the Day: Carceral

2 CQ

Word of the Day : February 8, 2017

carceral \KAHR-suh-rul\ adjective


: of, relating to, or suggesting a jail or prison


"The door opened, whining, rattling and groaning in keeping with all the rules of carceral counterpoint." — Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading, 1959

"We are in the midst of a debate around criminal justice right now…. In the midst of such debates it is customary for pundits, politicians, and writers like me to sally forth with numbers to demonstrate the breadth and width of the great American carceral state." — Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, 8 June 2015

Did You Know?

Our earliest known evidence of carceral—an adjective borrowed directly from Late Latin—dates to the late 16th century, with evidence of incarcerate ("to imprison") appearing shortly thereafter; they're both ultimately from carcer, Latin for "prison." The English verb cancel is also linked to carcer via Latin cancelli, a word meaning "lattice" that likely developed from an alteration of carcer. Carceral is a word that is generally not found outside the confines of academic or legal contexts.  

Aired February 8, 2017

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