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.
November 23rd, 2014
Episode 24 of 848 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 23, 2014 is: recusant \REK-yuh-zunt\ adjective : refusing to submit to authority Examples: Elizabeth's recusant streak was apparent even in elementary school, where she would frequently challenge the rules put forth by her teachers. "The third volume, covering the English Civil War and its aftermath, offers more of the same smoothly readable analysis. Oliver Cromwell, with his Puritan grit and fear of recusant Catholicism, inevitably takes up much of the action." Ian Thomson, The Independent (UK), October 22, 2014 Did you know? In 1534, Henry VIII of England declared himself the head of the Church of England, separating it from the Roman Catholic Church, and the resultant furor led to increased attention on people's religious observances. A recusant was someone who (from about 1570-1791) refused to attend services of the Church of England, and therefore violated the laws of mandatory church attendance. The name derives from the Latin verb recusare, meaning "reject" or "oppose." The adjective recusant has been in use since the late 16th century. Originally, it meant "refusing to attend the services of the Church of England," but by the century's end, both the adjective and the noun were also being used generally to suggest resistance to authority of any form.