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Aug 7, 2013
This week's theme
Words coined after baddies

This week's words
Ponzi scheme
quisling
burke
Potemkin village
Typhoid Mary

William Burke
William Burke
Illustration: T. Clerk

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

burke

PRONUNCIATION:
(buhrk)

MEANING:
verb tr.:
1. To murder by suffocation.
2. To silence or suppress.
3. To avoid or bypass.

ETYMOLOGY:
After William Burke (1792-1829), who killed people to sell their bodies for dissection. His preferred method was smothering so as to leave the body unmarked and suitable for dissection. He was captured, hanged, and on the judge's orders, his body was publicly dissected. Earliest documented use: 1829.

USAGE:
"When Logeto came in, the killer burked him. Logeto never made a sound."
William Diehl; Hooligans; Villard Books; 1984.

"There is no point in burking the truth: Gandhi and India are fast going to be at odds with each other."
Does Mahatma Gandhi Matter?; Business Line (Chennai, India); Oct 1, 2007.

See more usage examples of burke in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
We must not be frightened nor cajoled into accepting evil as deliverance from evil. We must go on struggling to be human, though monsters of abstractions police and threaten us. -Robert Hayden, poet and educator (1913-1980)

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