Thursday, July 14, 2016

Language of Confusion: Dict-, Part III

Part three! We’re done!

Contradict didn’t show up until the late sixteenth century, but contradiction showed up way back in the late fourteenth century. Contradict comes from the classical Latin contradictus, while contradiction is from contradictionem, opposition. Both come from the word contradicere, reply or contradict. Contra means against, and dicere is say, so it’s literally say against. Which makes sense! It’s a miracle!

And now for a word that’s already a noun. Verdict showed up in the mid sixteenth century from the Middle English verdit, which was just verdict. Before that it was the Anglo French verdit, which could be testimony or judgment. Now, this word was actually created in French, not Latin. The ver- is from the Old French word for true (it’s where we get very), while the dit is the past participle of dire, which means say in French all the way up to today. But we can’t completely discount Latin, as dire is from dicere, and ver- can be traced to it, too. Plus Medieval Latin has the word verdictum, which also means verdict, so there’s clearly more than a little influence there. At least this time when we copied the Latin spelling for English we decided to say the C. Indict.

Addict seems like a weird word to be related to the others, but, well, it is. It showed up in the mid sixteenth century, like most of the others, coming from the classical Latin addictus, addicted, and addicere, which had meanings like deliver, yield, devote, and betray. Wow, that’s a complicated word. It’s a combination of ad-, to, and of course dicere, say, meaning this word is to say to. Which doesn’t really sound like addict. Apparently, it’s had a lot of different definitions over the years, in English as well as Latin. It used to have meanings like allot and devoted before it was what we know it as. I guess someone who’s really devoted to something is an addict…



  1. Went from making sense to all over the map. That's a lot of meanings for addict.

  2. Addict sounds very convoluted- particularly the link to betray.

  3. All I'm coming away with today is the desire to make "dict" jokes.

  4. Very comes from the French for true? That makes... no, I don't know if that makes sense or not.

  5. Somehow that does all make sense… In a kind of nonsensical way.


Please validate me.