1 a : to grant or furnish often in a gracious or condescending manner
b : to give by way of reply
2 : to grant as a privilege or special favor
Did You Know?
Shakespeare fans are well acquainted with vouchsafe, which in its Middle English form vouchen sauf meant “to grant, consent, or deign.” The word, which was borrowed with its present meaning from Anglo-French in the 14th century, pops up fairly frequently in the Bard’s work—60 times, to be exact. “Vouchsafe me yet your picture for my love,” beseeches Proteus of Silvia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. “Vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food,” King Lear begs his daughter Regan. But you needn’t turn to Shakespeare to find vouchsafe. As illustrated by our examples, today’s writers also find it to be a perfectly useful word.
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“Juan Carlos, who announced on Monday that he is abdicating the throne, was long revered for his role in vouchsafing Spain’s transition to democracy following the death, in 1975, of the country’s geriatric Fascist leader, Generalissimo Francisco Franco.” — Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 2 June 2014
“By the end of ‘This Flat Earth,’ Julie comes to seem like a latter-day variation on Emily, the heroine of Wilder’s ‘Our Town,’ who is vouchsafed a glimpse of small human lives within a cosmic framework.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times, 9 Apr. 2018