Saturday, July 07, 2007

WORD A DAY

RECUSANT: refusing to submit to authority

In 1534, Henry VIII of England declared himself the head of the Church of England, separate from the Roman Catholic Church, and the resultant furor led to increased attention focused on people's religious observances. A "recusant" was someone who (from about 1570 to 1791) refused to attend services of the Church of England and therefore violated the laws of mandatory church attendance. The word derives from the Latin verb recusare, meaning "reject" or "oppose." The adjective "recusant," in use since the early 17th century, originally mean "refusing to attend the services of the Church of England," but by the century's end both the adjective and the noun were also being used generally to suggest resistance to authority of any form.

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