etymology of expunge

Yep, that’s the Mirriam-Webster Word of the Day. Before I, uh, delete the message from my in-box, I should record the derivation, as it’s pretty neat:

In medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, a series of dots was used to mark mistakes or to label material that should be deleted from a text, and those deletion dots can help you remember the history of “expunge.” They were known as “puncta delentia.” The “puncta” part of the name derives from the Latin verb “pungere,” which can be translated as “to prick or sting” (and you can imagine that a scribe may have felt stung when his mistakes were so punctuated in a manuscript). “Pungere” is also an ancestor of “expunge,” as well as a parent of other dotted, pointed, or stinging terms such as “punctuate,” “compunction,” “poignant,” “puncture,” and “pungent.”

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