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.
October 17th, 2014
Episode 8 of 826 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 17, 2014 is: forswear \for-SWAIR\ verb 1 : to make a liar of (oneself) under or as if under oath 2 a : to reject, deny, or renounce under oath b : to renounce earnestly Examples: Tina forswore flying after the latest airline mishap left her stranded in Chicago for eighteen hours. " the film finds Cotillard playing an ordinary woman who, shortly after recovering from a period of depression, finds herself being laid off in unusual circumstances. If she can persuade a majority of her colleagues to forswear their annual bonuses then she can keep her job." Donald Clarke, The Irish Times, August 22, 2014 Did you know? Forswear (which is also sometimes spelled foreswear) is the modern English equivalent of the Old English forswerian. It can suggest denial ("[Thou] would'st forswear thy own hand and seal" John Arbuthnot, John Bull) or perjury ("Is it the interest of any man to lie, forswear himself, indulge hatred, seek desperate revenge, or do murder?" Charles Dickens, American Notes). But in current use, it most often has to do with giving something up, as in "the warring parties agreed to forswear violence" and "she refused to forswear her principles." The word abjure is often used as a synonym of forswear, though with less emphasis on the suggestion of perjury or betrayal of the beliefs that one holds dear.