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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.
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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.
In "Close Reading an Archival Object," Ridge applies the signal literary studies methodology of close reading to an analysis of an object both fascinating and everyday: a postcard sent from Salvador Dali to Stefan Zweig, its picture face (reprinted as the cover image for this issue) all lurid colour and sun-soaked leisure, the letter filled with wilful misprisions and inside jokes.
But first we must dispense with a series of fundamental and telling misprisions. An empathy machine?
(That Cidade was a tremendous commercial success did nothing to improve Bentes's opinion of the film.) A theory of fidelity-based adaptation with no tolerance for Hutcheon's "repetitions with variations," Bloom's misprisions, or Jameson's antagonistic incompatibilities runs through Bentes's text like a hidden, organizing thread.
Judith Paltin shows how in Victory, as in other Conradian texts, a series of misprisions prevents the meeting of minds, and action alternates between largely futile attempts to comprehend another's mind and the sensation of being misunderstood.
He discovers that "potential matters of fact are surrounded, in common conversations on both sides of the frontier, by a haze of half-baked understandings and misprisions." Thus, he establishes two of the ongoing themes of the work in the initial pages: the gulf between those in power and those lacking power and the misprision of an ethical crime (intentional or not).
In chapter 4, "The Bad Physician: Casuisitry and Augustinian Charity in Biathanatos," Ettenhuber shows how Donne willfully misrepresents Augustine's position against suicide in The City of God in order to "extend the perimeters of charitable 'misinterpretation,"' his "textual equivocations, omissions, and misprisions" thereby calling the category of intent itself into doubt as an ethical control over argument and threatening the subversion of his own argument (139-40).
She appropriately avoids calling these resemblances symptoms of "the anxiety of influence," because they are not channeled through misprisions of one's forebears.
SCAF's Administrator page (whose editorial team remains a shady issue) accused the MB of "inciting armed Jihad against SCAF." This accusation stemmed from a statement the MB released on March 24 criticizing Kamal Al-Ganzoury's government over its monstrous failures and questioning SCAF's intentions by clinging so strongly to the misprisions of the government.
To the chapters themselves: Madeline Dobie's "Translation in the Contact Zone: Antoine Galland's Milk et une nuits: contes arabes," well placed as the inaugural essay, cogently illuminates the misprisions involved in the unexamined supposition that one is working with a text fixed a priori in time and language, and demonstrates to the reader "a multilayered process involving multiple stages of oral and written exchange over several adjacent languages" (49), cultures, and traditions, that takes place in "an invaginated boundary" (49).
Where these fantasies are not conditioned by outright ignorance and misinformation, they often as not stem from crucial misprisions. For this reason, attempts to unmask the real so-and-so behind the signifier are often mooted from a literary standpoint, though there is, of course, real intellectual value in such retrievals.
Here we saw afresh the close readings and misprisions that Weber and kindred early American avant-gardists explored in order to mark a distance from, and homage to, their European forebear.