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December 29, 2019

So, Donald Trump is to be impeached; or at least the proceedings have started. Impeached. Until very recently I had not that heard that word for decades. I first came across it when studying the English Civil War for A-level in 1979; for Charles I, of course, was impeached by Parliament. But what is the origin of this strange word, which has nothing to do with peaches?

Well. It comes from the idea of trapping someone by the foot (Latin pes, pedis). It’s related to the French word empêcher (to prevent) and the English word impediment.

The word impeach also gives us the rather lovely adjective unimpeachable, meaning being beyond reproach. I don’t think that epithet will ever be applied to Trump.

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One Comment
  1. Simon Carter permalink

    He’s in pretty select company. Only Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton have previously been impeached. Nixon would have been but resigned before proceedings got underway.

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