March 22, 2012
plagiarism (noun)
\PLAY-juh-riz-um\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : the act of stealing and passing off (as the ideas or words of another) as one's own2 : something stolen or passed off as one's own
How do you use it?
The best-selling author was accused of plagiarism by one of his former students.
Are you a word wiz?

The word "plagiarism" traces back to the Latin word for a kind of device used since ancient times. What device do you think plays a role in the history of "plagiarism"?

The credit is all yours if you picked B. The Latin noun "plaga" referred to a hunting net or snare used for capturing game. The netting of such animals was called "plagium." This word was also used for the crime of kidnapping children or nonslaves and selling them as slaves. The kidnapper was called a "plagiarius." Later, "plagiarius" also referred to a literary thief or plagiarist. When the word was borrowed into 17th-century English as "plagiary," both Latin senses were carried over. However, only the sense of stealing another person's literary work applies to "plagiarism" and "plagiarize," both of which come from "plagiary."
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