Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
December 11th, 2014
Episode 42 of 758 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 11, 2014 is: allege \uh-LEJ\ verb 1 : to assert without proof or before proving 2 : to bring forward as a reason or excuse Examples: She alleges that her roommate stole hundreds of dollars from her. "The Chicago lawsuit alleges a two-decade-long campaign by the industry to persuade doctors to make the use of painkillers routine for chronic pain by obscuring the drugs' risks and misrepresenting their efficacy." David Armstrong, Businessweek, November 14, 2014 Did you know? These days, someone "alleges" something before presenting the evidence to prove it (or perhaps without evidence at all), but the word actually derives from the Middle English verb alleggen, meaning "to submit (something) in evidence or as justification." Alleggen, in turn, traces back to Anglo-French and probably ultimately to Latin allegare, meaning "to send as a representative" or "to offer as proof in support of a plea." Indeed, allege once referred to the actions of someone who came forward to testify in court; this sense isn't used anymore, but it led to the development of the current "assert without proof" sense.