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mis·pri·sion 1

1. Neglect in performing the duties of public office.
2. Law The criminal offense of concealing, or neglecting to report or prevent, a felony or act of treason one had knowledge of but did not participate in: misprision of a felony; misprision of treason.
3. Seditious conduct.
a. Misunderstanding or misinterpretation: "to show that everything once viewed as truth and light is no more than shadow and misprision" (Edward Rothstein).
b. A misreading or misinterpretation of a text, especially as a means of distinguishing oneself from a literary predecessor.

[Middle English, illegal act on the part of a public official, from Anglo-Norman, mistake, misdeed, variant of Old French mesprison, from mespris, past participle of mesprendre, to make a mistake : mes-, wrongly; see mis-1 + prendre, to take, seize (from Latin prehendere, prēndere; see ghend- in Indo-European roots).]

mis·pri·sion 2

Contempt; disdain.

[mispris(e) (variant of misprize) + -ion.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


a. a failure to inform the proper authorities of the commission of an act of treason
b. the deliberate concealment of the commission of a felony
[C15: via Anglo-French from Old French mesprision error, from mesprendre to mistake, from mes- mis-1 + prendre to take]


1. (Law) contempt
2. failure to appreciate the value of something
[C16: from misprize]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(mɪsˈprɪʒ ən)

1. a neglect or violation of official duty by one in office.
2. failure by one not an accessory to prevent or notify the authorities of treason or felony.
3. a contempt against the government or courts, as sedition or contempt of court.
4. a mistake; misunderstanding.
[1375–1425; late Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French mesprision=mes- mis-1 + prision < Latin pr(eh)ēnsiōnem; see prehension]


(mɪsˈprɪʒ ən)

contempt or scorn.
[1580–90; misprize + -ion, on the model of misprision1]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


improper conduct or neglectful behavior, especially by a person who holds public office.
See also: Crime
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?
References in classic literature ?
Borthrop Trumbull really knew nothing about old Featherstone's will; but he could hardly have been brought to declare any ignorance unless he had been arrested for misprision of treason.
Following her conviction, defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence, argued that the Fifth Amendment barred her misprision conviction, and contended the District Court erred by refusing defendant's proposed "mere-presence" jury charge.
Misprision of a felony criminalizes having knowledge of a felony and concealing it.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment and loss of goods for misprision of treason, a crime which consisted of someone witnessing treason and failing to report it.
Despite Trump's insistence the dossier is "fake news" [it was after all financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign], the intelligence community has "strong reason to take it cautiously but seriously, especially where it alleges collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians." If only some of the dossier's "damning allegations are true," Congress could have a "near-airtight case for impeaching and convicting" Trump on grounds of treason or misprision of truth.
exposure, (94) assault, (95) misprision of felony, (96) false
This misprision could no doubt be ascribed to the wealth and variety of post-medieval 'portraits' of Jesus.
(3) In The Anxiety of Influence (1973, 1997), Harold Bloom defines or rather amends misprision to mean "a doing amiss (and taking amiss) of what the precursors did, but 'amiss' has a dialectical meaning here.
In November--eight months after Heald, Paul and Tom Whitehead were added to the indictment--Rickenbach offered to plead guilty to a single count of misprision (that is, failing to report a crime) if he could be guaranteed a probation-only sentence.
Poetic influence goes beyond "source-study," "the history of ideas," and "the patterning of images"; instead, "poetic misprision," Blooms preferred term, "is necessarily the study of the life-cycle of the poet-as-poet" (7).
(276) At common law, there was the offense of misprision of felony, which criminalized failures to report planned crimes and crimes that had already been perpetrated.