Word of the Week 2021 – Malversation

Malversation Owen Paterson

In sharing the meaning of ‘malversation,’ Susie Dent sums up the morally bankrupt regime currently in power in Britain

Consistent in her ability to supply many a ‘Word of the Week’ for The Steeple Times, etymologist and Countdown ‘Dictionary Corner’ stalwart Susie Dent has gone and done it again.


Tweeting on Thursday and following up on her brilliant use of ‘thunderplump’ earlier this week, Dent remarked on a word of Middle French origin that sums up Boris Johnson’s Conservative government. Her missive read:


Word of the day is ‘malversation’ (16th century): the corrupt administration of power.


In a week when ‘Bosie The Clown’ has shown his true colours in his inept handling of ‘Owen Paterson-gate,’ we have most definitely seen ‘malversation.’


That anyone views it acceptable that an already handsomely paid MP and former minister took over £500,000 extra to lobby for private companies is bad enough, but that his cretinous colleagues were then forced to march through the lobbies in support of this charlatan is an utter disgrace.


Forever more a ‘malverser,’ Paterson – who was quite happy to sit in Parliament for 24 years without previously moaning about how “cruel” a place he supposedly now believes it to truly be – will be remembered now as a ‘King of Sleaze.’ Equally, if this prized prig thinks he’ll now be “clearing his good name,” he’s about as likely to see another pig fly across the sky above his vast Shropshire mansion.


Shame on Owen Paterson, but more so shame on Boris Johnson and his wholeheartedly rotten government.


Owen Paterson mansion
Owen Paterson was able to live in palatial splendour in a vast Shropshire mansion courtesy of not only his salary as a Conservative Member of Parliament, but also because he greedily and without hesitation or consideration for morality took over £500,000 from private companies. That he said he’d “do it all again” about sums up the arrogance of this grubby piece of toerag.
According to Merriam-Webster, ‘malversation’ – first knowingly used in 1549 – can be defined as “misbehavior and especially corruption in an office, trust, or commission” or more simply as a “corrupt administration.” Going further they add: “The form ‘mal-’ is often a bad sign in a word, and malversation is no exception. In Middle French, ‘mal-’ (meaning ‘bad,’ from the Latin word for ‘bad,’ ‘malus’) teamed up with ‘verser’ (‘to turn, handle,’ from the Latin verb ‘vertere,’ ‘to turn’) to create ‘malverser,’ a verb meaning ‘to be corrupt.’ This in turn led to the French noun ‘malversation’, which was adopted by English speakers in the mid-16th century. Some other ‘mal-’ words that entered English from Middle French are ‘maladroit’ (‘inept’), ‘malcontent’ (‘discontented’), and ‘maltreat’ (‘to treat badly’).”


  1. It is a rotten government as you say Matthew. Rotten because it got there following mindlessly the tune of an un-elected odd and rabid [mysteriously tolerated and adopted] Svengali who with lies throughout cleverly used the ambition of a nice but dim shapeshifter that happened to alight on the Brexit vector to become PM. Once in he had to form his government from a wanting pool of uber-right myopic’s of no indicated personality or ability. Even the odd fellow career long malleable shapeshifter dodged being considered by taking an elevation for herself. So now we suffer these wonders expressing their odd, simple and biased selves all over the futures of our grand-children. So a frighteningly dim and vacuous smirk-er of an oddly and innate anti-immigrant disposition in Home high office. The House led by a cartoon (and terminal Annus Stricta sufferer) who thinks that knowledge of people blocks Covid. And a Chancellor whose fiscal understanding by self admission kicks in somewhere north of the price of a tin of baked beans is enabled to rob pensioners of 8% whilst giving breaks to the sector and its floppy-haired staffers that broke the country a decade or so ago. Oh never mind eh if you get caught – over such that would jail the rest of us – just go with a whopping great pension.


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