Monday, March 29, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: besot \bih-SAHT\

1 : infatuate
2 : to make dull or stupid; especially : to muddle with drunkenness

"Besot" developed from a combination of the prefix "be-" ("to cause to be") and "sot," a now archaic verb meaning "to cause to appear foolish or stupid." "Sot" in turn comes from the Middle English "sott," a noun meaning "fool." The first known use of "besot" is found in a poem by George Turberville, published in 1567. In the poem the narrator describes how he gazed at a beautiful stranger "till use of sense was fled." He then proceeds to compare himself to Aegisthus of Greek legend, the lover of Clytemnestra while Agamemnon was away at war, writing: "What forced the Fool to love / his beastly idle life / was cause that he besotted was / of Agamemnon's Wife."

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