Thursday, August 9, 2018

Language of Confusion: -Gress, Part I

Just a two-parter. I hope.

Progress showed up in the late fourteenth century as a noun, and then as a verb in the late sixteenth century. I guess you could say… progress was made. Anyway, it comes from the classical Latin progressus, which means, you know, progress. The pro- means forward here and the rest is from gradi, to walkor step, which is from gradus, a step. Like, the verb comes from the noun. And before that it can be traced to the Proto Indo European ghredh-, to walk, the origin of things like grade and graduate, as well as the other words we’re going to be looking at here.

We don’t actually say aggress, but apparently it’s a word. More common is aggressive or aggression, the former of which showed up in the late eighteenth century, while the latter showed up in the early seventeenth century meaning an unprovoked attack. It comes from the French aggression, which is in turn from the classical Latin aggressionem, an attack, which is from aggredi, to attack. The a is from ad-, to, and we already talked about gradi. Which means this word is “walk or step to”, which I guess is a sign of aggression.

Digress showed up in the mid sixteenth century from the classical Latin digressus (digress) from the verb digredi (to digress). It’s getting pretty formulaic now. The di- is from dis-, apart or aside, and with gradi, that means to digress is to step aside. Yeah, I can see it.

First of all, I think we can all agree that if a sinkhole appeared in DC and swallowed Congress into the pits of hell, that would be just fine. Second of all, congress showed up in the fifteenth century meaning a body of attendants or a meeting of armed forces before a meeting of people. It comes from the classical Latin congressus, meeting or association (or congress), and it’s from the verb, to meet. Con- means with, so all together a congress is those you walk with. Wow, it’s almost as if the word is supposed to refer to people who work together instead of people who make sure life is the absolute worst for everyone.

Ugh, thinking of Congress left me all ticked off. I’m going to go punch someone.



  1. Only if that hole swallowed both sides so we had to start over.

  2. As long as my rep is out of town when the sinkhole appears, I'm good. (Seriously, he's fighting the good fight. Is on the right side of the issues.) Oh, but our neighboring districts' reps should be there. You know the ones. They've been in the news for being awful on tape and bought by the Russians.

  3. And of course Congress can also be said to be the opposite of progress.

    What did the pits of hell ever do to deserve having Congress dropped into them?

  4. If you're going to punch someone, make sure he's a Nazi.


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