April 12th, 2020

words 6

Sunday Word: Malapert

malapert [mal-uh-purt]
(Archaic) Boldly disrespectful; impudent; saucy
(Archaic) An impudent person


Back in 2012 when the former UK prime minister David (I was the future once) Cameron threatened… To kill off the health and safety monster, he could never have envisaged such autophagous assistance from a peak industry body and sectarian cult of certified malaperts. (Bernard Corden, A Fountainhead of Safety? – The Australian Institute of Heinrich and Skinner, safetyrisk.net, 2019)

In such a situation, her father's malapert question rushing suddenly upon her, produced some symptoms which might have alarmed a suspicious heart; but, to do the squire justice, that was not his fault. (Henry Fielding, Tom Jones)

"I want you to whip this malapert with your sword-scabbard," roared the old patrician, pale with anger. (Alexandre Dumas, Balsamo, The Magician)

And this is old Fitzurse's boasted policy, encouraging these malapert knaves to rebel against us! (Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe)


late 14c., 'impudent, shameless, presumptuous,' from Old French mal apert 'over-ready, impudent,' literally 'ill-skilled,' from mal 'badly' + apert 'skillful,' variant of espert 'experienced, skillful, clever' (from Latin expertus). Attested from c. 1300 as the name of the personification of impudence. From mid-15c. as an adverb, 'impudently, presumptuously.' (Online Etymological Dictionary)

Malapert debuted in English in the 14th century, was a favorite of Shakespeare, and is still used sporadically today. The prefix mal-, meaning 'bad' or 'badly' and deriving from the Latin malus, is found in many English words, including 'malevolent' and 'malefactor.' The second half of 'malapert' comes from the Middle English apert, meaning 'open' or 'frank.' 'Apert' further derives from the Latin word apertus ('open'), which gave us our noun 'aperture' (meaning 'an opening'). Putting the two halves together gives us a word that describes someone or something that is open or honest in a bad way-that is, a way that is bold or rude. The noun 'malapert' also exists, and means 'a bold or impudent person.' (Merriam-Webster)