Monday, June 28, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: peremptory \puh-REMP-tuh-ree\

1 : putting an end to or precluding a right of action, debate, or delay
2 : expressive of urgency or command
3 : marked by arrogant self-assurance : haughty

"Peremptory" is ultimately from Latin "perimere," which means "to take entirely" and comes from "per-" ("thoroughly") and "emere" ("to take"). "Peremptory" implies the removal of one's option to disagree or contest something. It sometimes suggests an abrupt dictatorial manner combined with an unwillingness to tolerate disobedience or dissent (as in "he was given a peremptory dismissal"). A related term is the adjective "preemptive," which comes from Latin "praeemere" - "prae-" ("before") plus "emere." "Preemptive" means "marked by the seizing of the initiative" (as in "a preemptive attack").

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