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August 4, 2020

Word of the Day: Nuncupative

1 CQ

Word of the Day : October 22, 2017

nuncupative \NUN-kyoo-pay-tiv\ adjective


: spoken rather than written : oral


"He left me a small Legacy in a nuncupative Will, as a Token of his Kindness for me, and he left me once more to the wide World." — Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 1791

"He did leave a will in which he bequeathed everything to Rebecca; but it turns out that John's will was not a written will. It was a nuncupative will, which means on his deathbed, John verbally told persons how he wanted his estate divided or dispensed." — Sharon Tate Moody, The Tampa (Florida) Tribune, 27 Dec. 2015

Did You Know?

Nuncupative (from Latin nuncupare, meaning "to name") has been part of the English language since at least the 15th century, most typically appearing in legal contexts as a modifier of the noun will. The nuncupative will originated in Roman law, where it consisted of an oral declaration made in the presence of seven witnesses and later presented before a magistrate. Currently, nuncupative wills are allowed in some U.S. states in extreme circumstances, such as imminent peril of death from a terminal illness or from military or maritime service. Such wills are dictated orally but are usually required to be set down in writing within a statutorily specified time period, such as 30 days. Witnesses are required, though the number seven is no longer specified.

Aired October 22, 2017

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