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.
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.
“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?