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Mon., Aug. 6, 2012, 5:48 a.m.

A Word A Day — affront

August 06, 2012

Word of the Day

  • affront
  • audio pronunciation
  • \uh-FRUNT\


a : to insult especially to the face by behavior or language b : to cause offense to
: to face in defiance : confront
: to appear directly before

He affronted us with his rude behavior and seeming indifference to our feelings.

"She has fine acting skills, moving effortlessly from the Prima Donna's easily affronted hauteur to Ariadne's heartfelt grief, and she looked beautiful." — From a theater review by Sarah Bryan Miller in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), January 29, 2012


The Middle English "afronten," the ancestor of the Modern English verb "affront," was borrowed from the Anglo-French "afrunter," a verb which means "to defy" but which also has the specific meaning "to strike on the forehead" or "to slap on the face." These more literal senses reveal the word's Latin origins, a combination of the Latin prefix "ad-," meaning "to" or "towards," and "front-, frons," which means "forehead" (and which is also the source of the English word "front"). While the striking or slapping sense of "afrunter" was not adopted by English, it is alluded to in the oldest uses of "afronten" in Middle English in the sense of "to insult especially to the face."

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.