from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Maladministration of public office.
  • n. Neglect in preventing or reporting a felony or treason by one not an accessory.
  • n. An act of sedition against a government or the courts.
  • n. Contempt; disdain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Criminal neglect of duty or wrongful execution of official duties.
  • n. Misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of misprising; misapprehension; misconception; mistake.
  • n. Neglect; undervaluing; contempt.
  • n. A neglect, negligence, or contempt.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Mistake; error; misunderstanding.
  • n. In law: Criminal neglect in respect to the crime of another: used especially in connection with felonies and treason, to indicate a passive complicity, as by concealment, which falls short of the guilt of a principal or accessory.
  • n. More loosely, any grave offense or misdemeanor having no recognized fixed name, as maladministration in an office of public trust: also termed positive misprision, as distinguished from negative misprision, or mere neglect or concealment.
  • n. An act of undervaluing or disdaining; scorn; contempt.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, variant of Old French mesprison, from mespris, past participle of mesprendre, to make a mistake : mes-, wrongly; + prendre, to take, seize (from Latin prehendere, prēndere).
mispris(e) (variant of misprize) + -ion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman mesprison, mesprisioun et al., from mespris + -ion.


  • The most familiar and popular use of the term misprision describes the failure to report a crime ....

    It's Called, "Misprison of a Felony." And it's a felony too.

  • If you conceal information, then it becomes what we call misprision of a felony.

    CNN Transcript Oct 14, 2009

  • The former almost certainly accounts for Steiner's fondness for the word misprision

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol II No 2

  • Friday he became the first person to be formally charged - also with "misprision" - since the wave of arrests following the coup bid.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • A qualm, indeed, came across him, when he considered, as a lawyer, that this father was probably, in the eye of law, a traitor; and that there was an ugly crime on the Statute Book, called misprision of treason.


  • The root meaning is “mistake”; misprision comes from the French mesprendre, with prendre meaning “to take.”

    No Uncertain Terms

  • A bill was passed disfranchising all such persons as had voluntarily stayed in neighbourhoods occupied by the British troops; their offence was called misprision of treason.

    The Critical Period of American History

  • * Not informing civil authorities of a crime is called misprision of felony.


  • "misprision" - a legal term meaning concealment of knowledge of treason - for failing to report to authorities that he knew in advance of the coup bid.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • In fact, Harold Bloom would call them “strong writers,” engaging in a kind of misprision necessary for their own development.

    Head Shaking and the best Canadian Poem


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • With duty and greed in collision

    What think you the Goblin's decision?

    His honor's a pittance

    That's sent in remittance

    For grand enough deeds of misprision.

    April 7, 2017

  • "This kind of thing—a Dutchman from 1800 speaking English like Bill Sikes—goes with the fictional territory, I suppose, and Mitchell, to be fair, is alert to the misprision of translation and cultural transmission: the book has many scenes in which the fumbling Dutchmen and Japanese clink the cracked cups of their different languages together, while meaning leaks away."

    "The Floating Library" by James Wood in the New Yorker, July 5, 2010, p 72

    July 17, 2010

  • I presume the "oops" tag refers to SeanCroft's definition - "error, wrongdoing". Sometimes I say oops when I make a mistake. Other times I cuss a blue streak.

    August 28, 2009

  • Curious about the tag—this isn't misspelled. (It looks like it is, though, which is partly why I like it so much.)

    August 28, 2009

  • Neglect or violation of official duty; misconduct. Failure to report or prevent a serious crime.

    August 28, 2009

  • (n.) - error, wrongdoing; a misunderstanding in which one thing is taken for another. "A term used by Harold Bloom to describe the process by which strong writers misread or misinterpret their literary predecessors so as to clear imaginative space for themselves. According to Bloom, every poem is a misprision or misconstrual of a hypothetical parent poem."

    December 12, 2008