The solution to today’s Wordle puzzle (#466 – September 28, 2022) is usurp. The word means to seize and hold something (usually a position of authority) forcefully or illegally. The Biblical story of Jacob and Esau is a great example of what usurping looks like: a sneaky, manipulative power grab. The word usurp has an interesting etymology. According to Merriam-Webster, the word was absorbed into the English language from the Anglo-French word “usorper,” which is derived from the Latin verb “usurpare,” meaning to take possession of something without a legal claim. Usurpare itself is a combination of two words: usu (a form of “usus,” meaning “use”) and rapere (“to seize”).
Interestingly, there are several other derivatives of the word “rapere” in the English language today, including rapacious (which describes someone who is given to aggressively greedy or covetous), rapine (the violent seizure of another’s property), and rapt (the earliest sense of which means to be carried away bodily into heaven). Today’s Wordle answer might have started out as an annoying head-scratcher, but it did take us down the path to a fascinating language lesson, so we’ll skip the usual starter word analysis and instead go find out how many more words were derived from “rapere.”