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Turpitude vs turpentine

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  • Turpitude and turpentine are two words that are very similar in pronunciation and spelling and are easily confused. We will examine the difference between the words turpitude and turpentine, where the terms come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

    Turpitude means wicked behavior or having a depraved character. The word is most often used in the term moral turpitude, which is a legal concept that signifies conduct that is in opposition to a community’s standards of good and moral action. Crimes of moral turpitude particularly apply to people who hold educational and religious positions as well as immigrants. In fact, the concept of moral turpitude first appeared in American immigration law in the nineteenth century. The legal term moral turpitude is ambiguous, and open to wide interpretation. The word turpitude is derived from the Latin word turpitudinem, which means baseness.

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    Turpentine is an oil that is usually derived from pine wood, it is pungent smelling and flammable. Turpentine is used in paint and paint thinners as well as varnish, it is also an old-fashioned liniment. The word turpentine is derived from the Latin word terebintha resina, or the resin of the terebinth tree from which turpentine was first distilled.

    Examples

    The first is dishonorable discharge from the service; the second is conviction by final judgment “for an offense involving moral turpitude.” (The Philippine Star)

    “Nor will entry be granted to speakers who have committed a crime of moral turpitude or an entity that operates contrary to the laws of the State of Israel or an entity whose activity undermines the very legitimacy of state entities (like the Israel Defense Forces or the courts).”
    (Haaretz)

    Ra’anan saw his art studio go up in flames, and watched as the structure, filled with oil paints and turpentine and other flammable materials, burned to the ground. (The Jerusalem Post)

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