Saturday, December 21, 2002

Etymology Today from M-W: jeopardy \JEH-per-dee\
*1 : exposure to or imminence of death, loss, or injury : danger
2 : the danger that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense

Centuries ago, the Old French term "jeu parti" didn't mean "danger," but rather "an alternative" or, literally, "a divided game." That French expression was used for anything that represented an alternative viewpoint or gave two opposing viewpoints. "Jeu parti" passed into Anglo-French as "juparti," and from there it was borrowed into Middle English and respelled "jeopardie." At first, the English word was used to refer to the risks associated with alternative moves in the game of chess. Almost immediately, however, the term came to be used more generally in the "risk" or "danger" sense that it has today.

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