Sunday, May 23, 2010


defalcation \dee-fal-KAY-shun\ noun
*1 : the act or an instance of embezzling
2 : a failure to meet a promise or an expectation

Example sentence:
"'She made off with the money, an act of defalcation that disqualifies her from receiving a bankruptcy discharge,' the judge ruled." (Orlando Sentinel, March 21, 2004)

Did you know?
"The tea table shall be set forth every morning with its customary bill of fare, and without any manner of defalcation." No reference to embezzlement there! This line, from a 1712 issue of Spectator magazine, is an example of the earliest, and now archaic, sense of "defalcation," which is simply defined as "curtailment." "Defalcation" is ultimately from the Latin word "falx," meaning "sickle" (a tool for cutting), and it has been a part of English since the 1400s. It was used early on of monetary cutbacks (as in "a defalcation in their wages"), and by the 1600s it was used of most any sort of financial reversal (as in "a defalcation of public revenues"). Not till the mid-1800s, however, did "defalcation" refer to breaches of trust that cause a financial loss, or, specifically, to embezzlement.

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