Challenging Word of the WeeK: traduce

(truh DOOHS, -DYOOHS) verb

To traduce someone is to slander him, vilify him, malign, defame, and calumniate him, speak falsely and with malice toward him or his character; from Latin traducere (to disgrace), a variant of transducere (literally, to carry over; figuratively, to expose, “show up”). In Shakespeare’s Othello (Act V, Scene 2), Othello cries to Lodovico who has come to arrest him:

…In Aleppo once,
Where a malignant and turban’d Turk
Beat a Venetian and traduc’d the State,
I took by the throat the circumcised dog
And smote him thus.

Whereupon, he obeys Shakespeare’s stage directions: Stabs himself. Things are tough all around and it’s a bloody mess; but getting back to words and definitions, avoid the common error of identifying slander or defame with libel. Without going into legal minutiae and ramifications, libel is slander in written form and “published”, i.e., communicated in that form to a third party or parties. Best advice: Keep your mouth shut and your pen in your pocket.

My example: In an election year, the end of summer means the weather is cooling just as the political traducing season is really heating up. That’s some good advice above, though.

From the book, “1000 Most Challenging Words” by Norman W. Schur, ©1987 by the Ballantine Reference Library, Random House. I post a weekly “Challenging Words” definition to call more attention to this delightful book and to promote interesting word usage in the blogosphere. I challenge other bloggers to work the current word into a post sometime in the coming week. If you manage to do so, please leave a comment or a link to where I can find it. Previous words in this series can be found under the appropriate Category heading in the right-hand sidebar.

2 thoughts on “Challenging Word of the WeeK: traduce

  1. NightWriter: suggestion for a future word. My wife threw this out at me last week, and was very proud of it, even though I argued she didn’t use it properly. Perseveration: a tendency to repeat the response to an experience in later situations where it is not appropriate.

  2. Instead of using perseveration, one could just use “insanity.”

    While traduce is a perfectly good word, I would rather use “pillory” or “eviscerate” or “calumnify” or “crucify,” because traduce makes people think it’s like induce or deduce, and it has nothing to do with those words.

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