Saturday, May 08, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: abnegate \AB-nih-gayt\

1 : deny, renounce
2 : surrender, relinquish

There's no denying that the Latin root "negare" has given English some useful verbs. That verb, which means "to deny," was the ultimate source of the noun "abnegation," a synonym of "denial" that began appearing in English manuscripts in the 14th century. By the 17th century, people had concluded that if there was a noun "abnegation," there ought to be a related verb "abnegate," and so they created one by a process called "back-formation" (that's the process of trimming a suffix or prefix off a long word to make a shorter one). But "abnegate" and "abnegation" are not the only English offspring of "negare." That root is also an ancestor of other nay-saying terms such as "deny," "negate," and "renegade."

Previous E.T.

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