May 29, 2015

Affronts and Aspersions

An affront is an insult, indignity, or something offensive. As a verb, it means to insult or offend. Affront comes from comes from French affronter "to face, to brave, to confront". It can be used in a sentence as, "These laws are an affront to our free speech."

Aspersion comes from aspergere "to sprinkle on, spatter" based on ad- "(up) to, on" and sparger "to strew, scatter." An aspersion means a spattering or sprinkling, especially of holy water. It also means that which bespatters or besmirches someone's character, slander, defamation of character. People usually use the term 'cast aspersions', as in spatter someone with metaphorical mud.

Incidentally, Asperger's syndrome is named for Hans Asperger and totally unrelated to the word or word root above.