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Feb 16, 2010
This week's theme
Words with London connections

This week's words
billingsgate
Star Chamber
Fleet Street
Grub Street
bedlam

Westminster Palace
site of Star Chamber The Palace of Westminster
(photo: David Iliff)

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Star Chamber

PRONUNCIATION:
(star CHAYM-buhr)

MEANING:
noun: A court or group marked by arbitrary, oppressive, and secretive procedures.

ETYMOLOGY:
After the Star Chamber in the Palace of Westminster in London. It was the site of a closed-door court appointed by King Henry VII of England in the 15th century. Notorious for its abuse of power -- rulings made in secret, no appeal -- it was abolished by the Long Parliament in 1641. The chamber was so named because its ceiling was decorated with stars.

USAGE:
"'This is the most incredible Star Chamber proceeding, the most incredible lack of due process I've ever heard of,' Mitchelson said. 'I'm the alleged perpetrator, and I was not even invited.'"
Edward J. Boyer; Mitchelson Angry, Vows to Block Aid for Two Women; The Los Angeles Times; Jan 25, 1989.

See more usage examples of star chamber in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family, and each one of us is responsible for the misdeeds of all the others. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul. -Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

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