Daria Maya is a sophomore at Staples High School. But the teenager sure has a way with words.

The other day, she was chatting with her parents. Casually, Daria said that American politicians and the media engage in missuasion.

Daria’s parents, Joseph and Susan — both lawyers — looked at each other. They’d never heard that word. They asked her what it meant.

“There’s misinformation that politicians and the media are trying to persuade me to believe,” she replied. Then she gave Mom and Dad that oh-my-god-everyone-knows-what-I’m-talking-about look.

The Maya family (from left): Daniel, Joseph, Daria and Susan.

So Joseph did the natural thing: He emailed Merriam-Webster.

The dictionary folks were all over it. Associate editor Neil Serven wrote back that they found no previous use of “missuasion” anywhere in their citation database.

It wasn’t in the LEXIS-NEXIS periodicals database either.

There was one hit on a Reddit Bernie Sanders forum — “Cult-like powers of missuasion” — from June 2017. It described another politician.

Digging deeper, Serven discovered that the OED includes the verb “mis-suade” (labeling it “obsolete, rare”). Google Books found examples too, including 2 from an early 20th century Scottish writer.

“At a glance it strikes me as a useful and relevant word that could catch on,” Serven concluded.

“But since we only enter words in the dictionary once they’ve demonstrated established use (particularly in edited media), that work of getting other people to use it is up to you and your daughter.”

So what do you think, “06880” readers? Can we persuade enough people to use the word so that it earns a spot in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary?

Or would that simply be missuading them?

22 responses to “Word

  1. Not only is it a useful addition to our language, but its so alliterative, so easy to roll of the tongue, that it will encourage folks to misusate.

  2. Count me in o non-misuser!


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  3. Love it! Go Daria! ….words regularly go into and out of use and new ones get created. I’m one who loves to make new words up, it’s what keeps our English a living language.

  4. Ellen Wentworth

    Sounds logical to me!

  5. Fun. A useful addition to the mis- words, like misapprehension, misteach, mistemper.

    I suppose we could start a whole new series of related neologisms, like maybe foxposition for all espousals on cable news.

  6. We older folks called it bullshit 😂

  7. Right up my alley. There’s been a lot of missueading going on. I’ll start using it today.

  8. Daria- A perfect word for our imperfect world. Your insight will now add a new word- misuasion- to describe current and future political situations!

    Misuasion- /mis.u.aZHen/
    1. The deceptive use of persuasion
    2. The use of lies to get ones way
    3. The use of misinformation in a debate or discussion to win at any cost.

  9. Dorothy Abrams

    Yea, Tom.

  10. I absolutely love the word “missuasion”, although my spell check kept trying to change it. It kind of says it all, doesn’t It???

  11. Michael Calise

    Wasn’t she a librarian somewhere?

  12. Peter J. D. Kelley, Centerport NY

    A wonderful word and clearly should be entered into our lexicon. Congrats to Daria! Perfectly apropos as I sit here in DC this Sunday morning on a weekend visit, watching the news shows, and learning of the latest missuasions emanating from our capital. Here’s a portmanteau from me for our readers’ consideration: a political descriptor called a “trumposity”, as in Trump plus monstrosity. Picking up the papers in the morning or arriving home in the evening to watch the news, one can ask “what’s today’s latest trumposity to befall the nation?”

  13. It’s an interesting creation. But to refer solely to misinformation from politicians and media misses the mark in a major way: what about misinformation from powerful corporate interests?

    A perfect example from the time period when I grew up was the effort to distort or suppress the science showing a link between smoking and cancer.

    Today, the far greater danger, of course, is the campaign by certain corporate interests to undermine the research into the effects of our changing climate.

    And thank goodness for those in government and the media who expose these types of assaults on science and the truth.

  14. John F. (J-period) Wandres

    Missuasion, indeed! When I first started out as a freelance writer — back in the day when writers had to use real paper, typewriters and Wite-Out for their manuscripts, — my stype was to insert a non-word into the story, just for the perverse pleasure to see if the editors caught it and, with their terrible red pen, slashed it from the story. Almost never. Tee-hee.

  15. Count me in, if I can find an appropriate opportunity.

  16. Good word, and I agree that it is not limited to politicians. Many years ago, my colleague was hired to go around telling people that PCBs were totally safe. She was a good public speaker and very persuasive, or should I say misuasive. Despite being an intelligent engineer, she did believe it at the time. Misuasion can be very powerful!

  17. Sharon Paulsen

    Spot on!


    Works well in the world of “memes” and encapsulated combo-terminology!

    Or, in other words … nailed it!

  18. Great job Daria!

    A very useful word and applicable to so many situations.

    I feel there is missuasion all over – from politicians to media to what we read on Facebook.

    Great word and clever girl!

  19. The only entry on Urban Dictionary is the Bernie Sanders quote. Someone can add the definition — and Kudos to the WordSmith.

  20. That’s Aweosme. I love it! And it is most definitely going to now be part of my lexicon.

    Great job Maya family!