Printable Version
Pronunciation: spêrn Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. Reject, refuse, or turn down with disdain. 2. (Obsolete) To kick at, push away with the foot.

Notes: Since today's word is a genuine unborrowed English word, it only has English derivations. Someone who spurns is a spurner and someone who is spurned is the spurned.

In Play: Spurn is usually associated with decisive rejection: "June McBride handily spurned all the advances of Phil Anders." It usually involves varying amounts of disdain: "Sid spurned the opportunity to visit Neiman Marcus because he thought it overpriced."

Word History: Today's Good Word started out as Old English spurnan "to kick (away); reject, scorn" from Proto-Germanic spurnon, which was realized in Dutch as spoor "(train) track, trail", in German as Spur "track, trace", and in Norwegian as spor "trace". These words seem to derive from Proto-Indo-European spere- "ankle", whence Greek sphyron "ankle", Sanskrit sphurati "kicks", and Latin spernere "to reject, spurn". In English it turned up by natural, Germanic derivation as spur, whether attached to the ankle or a railroad line. English borrowed spoor from Afrikaans, which got it from Dutch. Someone's or some animal's spoor is their tracks, or clues of the their trail. (Today's Good Word inhabits a warm place in the heart of my old friend Richard Brockhaus.)

Dr. Goodword,

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