A Word for Wednesday

Spurious - a. [L. spurius] 1. Not genuine; not proceeding from the true source, or from the source pretended; counterfeit; false; adulterate. 2. Not legitimate; bastard

For clarity, I abridged the definition in first introducing this word. The unabridged entry includes these notes: "Spurious writings are such as are not composed by the authors to whom they are ascribed. Spurious drugs are common. The reformed churches reject spurious ceremonies and traditions. By the laws of England, one begotten and born out of lawful matrimony, is a spurious child. A spurious disease is not of the genuine type but bears a resemblance in its symptoms."

You see? This is another one of those words that has a very broad range of use :) And such words are great fun to play with. Aside from the fact that it's origin is Latin, I wasn't able to find any sort of history or historical context for this word. I was, however, able to find a number of passages where it's used. A few dealt with scientific experiments and medical procedures, but I couldn't make heads or tail of them. There were two, though, that showcase this word's use in very different contexts.

The first is from a collection of Letters from Port Royal written at the time of the Civil War.  “In the introduction to "Slave Songs of the United States," a collection made chiefly at Port Royal and published in 1867, this particular song is set down as spurious, that is, as being sung to a well-known "white folks '" tune.” Interesting, no?

The second is an excerpt from the Memoirs of the Jacobites of 1715 and 1745 Vol. II.  “The indignities which were wreaked upon the unfortunate Jacobites as they entered London have been detailed in the life of Lord Derwentwater. Amid the cries of a savage populace, and the screams of "No warming pan," "King George for ever!" an exclamation which proves how deeply the notion of spurious birth had sunk into the minds of the people, the Earl of Nithisdale was conducted, his arms tied with cords, and the reins of his horse taken from him, with his unfortunate companions, into the Tower.”

Between the Letters, the Memoirs, and the unabridged definition, you should now have an idea of when and where and how to use "spurious" :) Here's my use:

"I saw his mailed fist coming toward my face. I saw it and stood my ground. The pain would be awful, I knew, but not awful enough to tempt me to yield. The force of it threw me to the ground. I forced the black spots from my eyes, spit the blood out of my mouth, ignored the agony raging in my head, and stood back up. He had mounted his horse.

"You have until dawn. I will not have my holdings polluted by the likes of you." If lips could drip contempt, his would have.

"I'm not leaving," I said.

"You are the spurious seed of a spurious house and I will not have you in my sight!"

"That is not true!" I lunged for him, but his henchmen clamped down on me. I might as well as been in irons. So I shouted instead. "My father was a good man. How dare you speak of him that way."

His smile was as cold and crooked as the links of his mail. "You're a bastard, boy. How good could your father have been?"

I yanked at my arms but my strength did not avail me. "He was a better man that you. And I'm no bastard."

"Is that so? Well, well, I see that you're as ignorant as you are illegitimate. What a pity he never told you." He nodded to the men holding me. "Leave him."


  1. I've always loved this word for being one that conveys so much, even just by how it sounds.

  2. I love this word, but it makes me fear I'm spitting when I say it.

  3. Hey, I've an award for you! Stop by my blog to pick it up :)

  4. This is a great word and you used it well :)

  5. Ah, the spurious child. Curious how it rhymes with furious. (hehe! Couldn't help myself!)

    You can pack so much story in a little excerpt, Caitlin. Well done!

  6. Michelle - It does have a great atmosphere about it, doesn't it?

    Lyia - Lol! Yes, I suppose that's a bit of a downside...

    Christine - Why thanks :) I'll be by to get it shortly, and post it on Monday

    Jen - Thanks :)

    Cherie - Hahaha, you crack me up :) And thank you. I'm having great fun writing the excerpts.


Do share your thoughts - I enjoy reading them :)