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The most common modern sense of “misspeak” is in the US, where it has developed two meanings since the late 19th Century – to speak unclearly or to fail to tell the whole truth, says Mr Simpson. And it crossed the Atlantic in the mid 20th Century.
Fiona Douglas, a lecturer in English language at the University of Leeds, says the origins of the modern meanings go back to before 1393, when poet John Gower penned Confessio Amantis.
“The modern senses all have to do with unclear speaking and incorrect or misleading communication.
“The citations suggest that this ‘misspeaking’ can be deliberate or unintentional, conscious or unconscious – hence it’s quite interesting to speculate exactly what Hillary Clinton’s use of the word actually meant.”