Word curio icon

Word Curio

November 13, 2019

Word of the Day: Imprecate

1 CQ

Word of the Day : February 2, 2017

imprecate \IM-prih-kayt\ verb


: to invoke evil on : curse


"Mallory imprecated the weather when the ink froze in his fountain pen…." — Stanley Snaith, At Grips with Everest, 1938

"The people would pause, look out at the Missouri rolling past and quietly carrying down trees like doomed pinnaces, and the workers' sweating brows wrinkled, but I heard no one imprecate the river; each just went back to passing along stories and sandbags." — William Least Heat-Moon, River-Horse, 1999

Did You Know?

It may surprise you to learn that a word that refers to wishing evil upon someone has its roots in praying, but imprecate ultimately derives from the Latin verb precari, meaning "to pray, ask, or entreat." Precari is also the ancestor of such English words as deprecate (which once meant "to pray against an evil," though that sense is now archaic), precatory ("expressing a wish") and even pray itself (which has deeper roots in the Latin noun for a request or entreaty, prex).

Aired February 2, 2017

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max