Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Language of Confusion: Provision

What brought this one? The fact that I wasted so much time futzing with my blog design that I had to reach back for a pre-written post? Possibly.

Shockingly enough, provision does not mean being a proponent of eyesight (that’s actually pro-vision). Yes, it is distantly related to both pro- and vision, although the prefix and suffix were together long before modern English came to be. Provision showed up in the late fourteenth century, although the definition of something provided didn’t show up for another century, and specifically relating to food came just after that. Originally, it was a church word for naming the successor to a position before said position was vacant (it was literally providing beforehand). 

It comes from the classical Latin provisionem—foresight—which is from providere, the ancestor of provide. Providere, meaning to prepare or look ahead, is indeed a combination of the prefix pro- and videre. The former, in addition to meaning “in favor of” also means before. Videre is the origin word of visionand means to see. Yes, I can see you are all surprised. Combine together, and you get “to see before” or perhaps, to be prepared for the future.

There is one more word we’re going to look at in this family: improvise. In this case, the prefix im- (a variation of in-) means not or the opposite of. So instead of being prepared, it’s being unprepared, like when you jump onto a stage and just start doing stuff.

Also, interesting to note, provision is a word. Provising is not. Improvising is a word. Improvision is not. Coincidence? Yes, completely. But the divergence of words is quite amusing to me.

Sources for telling me what ecclesiastical means. Now that’s a vocab word for you.


  1. I like that, becasue what is preparation if not guessing what the future holds. Fun post :)

  2. "Videre is the origin word of vision and means to see. Yes, I can see you are all surprised." You amuse me. hehe

    Love your confusion posts! They lessen the least if I've got my wits sufficiently about me at the time of reading :P

  3. Very cool little lesson on these words:) Thanks!


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