To Traduce and Villify…

Somewhere in my distant, misspent youth, I studied a bit of Latin, and so hazarded that the word “traduce,” might mean to lead (from ducere, the verb to lead, from which our word duke also comes (dukes lead armies, you’ll recall)), across (from the Latin trans of the same meaning). Sure enough, one meaning of the word is to transport or convey from one place to another.

Another meaning, however, brings the sense of leading someone about as a spectacle, to be held up to shame and derision, and this is closer to the sense in which I most recently encountered the word.

Journalist Leigh Hunt was jailed for two years and fined 500L after being convicted of intent to traduce and villify the Prince of Wales in 1812.  Hunt described His Royal Highness as, “a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser [sic] of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without one single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity.”

So virulent was sentiment against the Prince at this point that Hunt’s sentence resulted only in further traducing of the royal name.

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4 comments on “To Traduce and Villify…

  1. Vilify… villain has two L’s, vilify, vilified, and vilification only contain one L… please don’t be irked at my presumption.

  2. Mandy, a true Wordy would never be irked when guided in the direction of greater accuracy. I’m going to leave my mistake and your correction in the post so the thread makes sense, but I’m also going to hie off to OED.com to see if the words have the same origin.

    Thanks!