Friday, July 20, 2012


mulct [mʌlkt] v. t.

1.) To punish (a person, an offence) by a fine. Also occas. to subject to a penalty of any kind. (The penalty or amount is expressed by a second object, or introduced by in.)

2.) To deprive or divest of.

mulct n.

1.) A fine imposed for an offence. Also occasionally in wider sense, a compulsory payment (usually implying unfair or arbitrary exaction).

2.) A penalty of any kind.

3.) Misused by Massinger for: A blemish. Cf. quote 1619 in sense 2, which Massinger has unintelligently imitated (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: From Middle English multen, to fine, from Latin multare, mulctare, from mulcta, fine.

"To take from
The workmanship of heaven is an offence
As great as to endeavour to add to it;
Of which I'll not be guilty. Chastity,
That lodges in deformity, appears rather
A mulct imposed by Nature, than a blessing;
And 'tis commendable only when it conquers,
Though ne'er so oft assaulted, in resistance:
For me, I'll therefore so dispose myself,
That if I hold out it shall be with honour;
Or if I yield, Miranda shall find something
To make him love his victory."
(The Knight of Malta, John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont, 1619)

(La Tentation de saint Hilarion, Nicolas François Octave Tassaert, ~1857)


Hi, all. Sort of a specialized word, I guess, but I couldn't resist an OED entry that insults the intelligence of the author of one of its citations! Here's the Massinger quote for those that are interested:

— Bertoldo: If so, what diverts
Your favour from me?
— Camiola: No mulct in your selfe,
Or in your person, mind or fortune.
(The Maid of Honour, Philip Massinger, 1632)


Jenny Woolf said...

I always thought it was a legal word but if it is in Beaumont and Fletcher I must be wrong. .

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Must confess, have never heard of mulct. I wonder if it's the basis for our current saying about "milking something for all its worth"? Mulct/milk sound much alike to the uneducated i.e. most of us.

D4 said...

You couldn't resist. You know that pretty much makes it worth it. It's amusing.

Z said...

All those months you didn't blog, you should impose a mulct.... I'm just saying..._:)

Bibi said...

Dunno if it posted my comment (slow internet). If it did, so be it, and let's double the fun!


Mulct sounds like something mucus-y. Or moldy. Like something you wouldn't want to touch.

Nice word though, because if I were to use it in daily English speech (there are those rare occasions I randomly burst out into English because why the hell not?) no-one here would know what I would be talking about. I feed on their confusion!!! Mwhahahaha!

ryc: it was. I'm so funny!

Nathyness said...

Cool blog focus! Glad you commented on my Barcelona post. Don't know if I would've found this blog otherwise.

-V- said...

Agreed, your comment on mine left me speechless. If you don't count my response as a speech.

Meri said...

no apologies for a specialized word- can you imagine the satisfaction of having a decent opportunity to use this one? irresistible.

A Beer for the Shower said...

I like mulct, but it deprives me of the chance to say penalized and then laugh like the child I am.

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