I know what mulch is, but what's mulct?

Kids and adults all around the world have been mulcted at one time or another: Mulct means to punish by a fine (speeding ticket, anyone?) or by depriving of something ("No cell phone for a week!"). Mulct is also a noun, referring to the fine or penalty itself: "Hey, that mulct isn't fair!"

Mulct has its roots in the Latin noun mulcta (fine, penalty), and the learned writers of the U.S. Constitution were familiar with the word:

The Federalist (or The Federalist Papers) consists of a series of articles designed to mobilize public opinion in support of the new national constitution proposed by the Constitutional Convention of 1787. In article No. 21, Alexander Hamilton expresses his concern that the current form of government (operating under the Articles of Confederation) had no power to command obedience, or to punish disobedience:

The United States, as now composed, have no powers to exact obedience, or punish disobedience to their resolutions, either by pecuniary mulcts, by a suspension or divestiture of privileges, or by any other constitutional mode.