Thursday, July 7, 2016

Language of Confusion: Dict-, Part II

This is part two of the three part series. And I mean it this time: no laughing!

Edict showed up in the late fifteenth century, meaning it’s older than words that begin with dict-. It actually appeared a couple of centuries earlier as (get this) edit, but no, it’s not related to the other edit. Because why would it be? Anyway! Edict comes from the Old French edit and classical Latin edictum/edicere, which is just edict and writing. The e comes from ex-, out, and dicere is to say, so it’s to say out. I guess an edict is something you say out loud…

Predict is relatively recent, having showed up in the early seventeenth century, although prediction showed up a century earlier. It comes from the classical Latin praedicatus/praedicere, predicted and to predict. No shockers there. Pre- means before, and dicere is say, so it’s say before, which is the only way you can really make a prediction. I mean, predicting things after they happen is pretty easy.

And now for a word that’s always really bugged me. Indict showed up in the early fourteenth century with the same meaning we have today. It comes from the Anglo French enditer, indict, and Old French enditier, which could mean indict and also write or compose. Before that, it’s the Vulgar Latin indictare, declare or accuse, a combination of in-, in, and dictare, which if you’ll remember from last week is slightly different than dicare—it’s the frequentative, the continuous action word. This makes the word “in saying”, if that makes sense. Okay, no it doesn’t. Nor does why English decided to switch to the Latinized spelling of it when we don’t say the frigging C. Seriously, what the hell.

Okay, stay tuned next week for the fascinating conclusion.



  1. I predict there will be a third installment! I know, too easy, right?

  2. I don't think I've ever used the word indict.

  3. Silent letters, what a pain in the posterior!

  4. Hey, that's what makes English a noble and elegant language. Only the patient can understand it.

  5. Nobody needed to predict anything before the 17th Century?

  6. It is all so confusing isn't it? Why can't English be predictable?


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