Just one letter

Have you ever played crossword constructor, Jeopardy champ and Harvard brainiac Joon Pahk’s Guess My Word?  One letter can change the outcome of the game, and stump you but good. You could be going from immunity – protection, or exemption from an obligation or penalty. Immunity, first used in the 15th century, is a Middle English word rooted in the Latin word for munia (services) and munus (services).   Switch one letter around, and suddenly you’ve got impunity – exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action.  Taken from Middle French or Latin, this word draws from impunitas (without punishment), rooted in poena, punishment.  While both words employ the negative prefix, im-,  their roots are quite different – service versus punishment. Continue reading “Just one letter”