Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: mansuetude \MAN-swih-tood\
: the quality or state of being gentle : meekness, tameness

"Mansuetude" was first used in English in the 14th century, and it derives from the Latin verb "mansuescere," which means "to tame." "Mansuescere" itself comes from the noun "manus" (meaning "hand") and the verb "suescere" ("to accustom" or "to become accustomed"). Unlike "manus," which has many English descendants (including "manner," "emancipate," and "manicure"), "suescere" has only a few English progeny. One of them is "desuetude" (meaning "disuse"), which comes to us by way of Latin "desuescere" ("to become unaccustomed"). Another is "custom," which derives via Anglo-French from Latin "consuescere" ("to accustom").

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