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March 6, 2021

Word of the Day: Impunity

2 CQ

Word of the Day : March 6, 2021

impunity \im-PYOO-nuh-tee\ noun


: exemption or freedom from punishment, harm, or loss

Did You Know?

Impunity (like the words pain, penal, and punish) traces to the Latin noun poena, meaning "punishment." The Latin word, in turn, came from Greek poinē, meaning "payment" or "penalty." People acting with impunity have prompted use of the word since the 1500s. An illustrative example from 1660 penned by Englishman Roger Coke reads: "This unlimited power of doing anything with impunity, will only beget a confidence in kings of doing what they [desire]." While royals may act with impunity more easily than others, the word impunity can be applied to the lowliest of beings as well as the loftiest: "The local hollies seem to have lots of berries this year.… A single one won't harm you, but eating a handful would surely make you pretty sick, and might kill you. Birds such as robins, mockingbirds, and cedar waxwings eat them with impunity." (Karl Anderson, The Gloucester County Times, 22 Dec. 2002).

Aired March 6, 2021

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