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In a word: mulct

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 

MULCT

As you endure the barrage of advertising about Christmas and year-end sales, you may wonder whether you are being taken advantage of. Did that retailer jack up the price by 50 percent and then advertise it as "marked down" by 25 percent?

You may suspect that you are being mulcted. Mulct (pronounced MULKT) comes from the Latin verb mulctare, "to pay a fine." The word came into English long ago, with an attestation in the Oxford English Dictionary from the fifteenth century.

Early on, it retained the Latin sense of being punished with a fine, but it expanded to include the sense of being taxed, being deprived of, being swindled. The sense of "extract money from" carries through all the senses. (The noun mulct, for the amount of tax or sum being extracted, has largely fallen out of use.) 

So be of good cheer and shop carefully. 

Example: Evan S. Connel's Alchymic Journals "Lacking skill enough to carve initials on a cherrypit, Cuman asses capering about in lion-skins, ulcerated flatulent druggists with oat-cake faces, three-fingered magicians quick to mulct apopleptic curates--they traffic lotion to soothe the spirit while Lazarus lies howling outside the gates." 

 

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