Thursday, July 11, 2019

Language Of Confusion: Whatever The Case May Be, Part VI

And we’ve still got two or three left of the words that derive from the Proto Indo European kap-, which means to grasp, and is the origin word for a case that contains something. Let’s see what weird words came from it this week.

Anticipate showed up in the sixteenth century, whereas anticipation came around in the late fourteenth century. It comes from the classical Latin anticipationem, which meant something like preconception, and its verb form was anticipare, something like “take care of ahead of time”. The anti- comes from ante, before, and the -cipare is from capere, to take. To anticipate is to take… before. I guess that makes sense?

Participate is similar in that while the verb came in the sixteenth century, the noun participation came in the late fourteenth century. It’s from the Old French participacion and Late Latin participationem, from the classical Latin participare, to participate. Now, we know the second part is to take/grasp/hold, but the first part is from pars, which is Latin for… part. To participate is to take part.

Emancipate is a (relatively) later word, not having shown up in any form until the seventeenth century. It’s from the classical Latin emancipatus, from the verb emancipare, which is just to emancipate, and in Roman law meant like emancipating a minor, a son being “freed” from his father’s control. Or a wife from her husband’s. Obviously, daughters aren’t mentioned here. Anyway, there are three parts to this word: the e- comes from ex-, out or away, the -man- comes from manus, hand, and then capare, to take. To take hand away. Figuratively, obviously, although I wouldn’t mind seeing it literally for a society where wives need emancipation.

Incipient is another late word, having shown up in the mid seventeenth century. Much like the other words, it’s from the classical Latin incipientem, from the verb incipere, to begin. The in- means in, into, or on here, so it’s “to take in/into/on.” Hm… I can kind of see it, although it requires some mind bending.

Finally today, municipal. Yeah, didn’t expect that one to be related to case, did you? All though what is a municipality but a metaphorically contained town? It showed up in the sixteenth century, from the Middle French municipal, and classical Latin municipalis, which is just municipal. This one doesn’t have a verb form, it’s just a mix of -capare and munus, which meant something like a function or service performed for a community. That’s from the Old Latin (that is, Latin from the first to sixth centuries BCE) moenus and Proto Italic (that’s a new one for this blog; it’s the hypothetical origin of Italic languages, including Latin) moini-/moinos-, obligation or task, from the Proto Indo European mei-, to change or grow. So because the Romans had municipalities, so do we.



  1. Anticipation - now all I can think of is the Heinz ketchup commercial.

  2. Incipient- now that's definitely not used often anymore.

  3. Anticipation is such a wonderful word to say. It has everything!

  4. I'm inclined to write a sentence that contains all of these words, but municipal threw in directions I don't feel like going.


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