Friday, August 23, 2002

Etymology Today from M-W: babblative \BAB-luh-tiv\

"Babblative" is a chatty member of the "ative" family, a collection of several hundred English words ending with the Latinate suffix "-ative" (which means "relating to" or
"tending to"). "Babblative" appeared in the 1500s, but it wasn't the first word-related member of its clan. "Talkative" has been around since the 15th century. Other verbal family members are more recent, but their heritage is distinguished. "Writative" (meaning "given or addicted to writing") was apparently first used by Alexander Pope in a 1736 letter to Jonathan Swift. (He wrote, "Increase of years makes men more talkative but less writative.") Younger still, "scribblative" (meaning "given to verbose and hastily written writing") was probably coined in 1829 by Robert Southey when he wrote of "professors of the arts babblative and scribblative."

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