BL: misdemeanor/high misdemeanor (update)
Posted: 22 December 2019 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6939
Joined  2007-01-03

Given recent events, I’ve updated this entry from 2006. The etymology is unchanged, but I’ve added more detail on that and on the history of impeachments in the US and how the term high misdemeanor ended up in the Constitution.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 December 2019 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1749
Joined  2007-03-21

Demeanor means conduct, so a misdemeanor is literally bad conduct. It comes from the verb to demean, meaning to conduct, to transact business and to behave oneself. Both senses of demean date to the 14th century.

The current sense of demean is to put down, shame, debase, which looks like it might be from the 17th century. “to conduct” dates from the 13th (according to Collins). The current meaning seems to derive from “debase.”

Word origin
C17: see de-, mean2; on the model of debase

I can’t get to OED on this.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 December 2019 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6939
Joined  2007-01-03

The demean meaning to debase is from an entirely different root. Mean as in low social status.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ BL: impeach, impeachment      HD: 2019 WOTY ››