Thursday, March 5, 2020

Language of Confusion: Part III

We looked at words beginning with part, so now it’s time to look at words with part at the end. Or the middle. Part of course being from the Proto Indo European pere-, grant or allot.

First, apart showed up in the late fourteenth century, from the Old French a part. So, no major revelations here. The a comes from the classical Latin ad, to, and partem, which means part and is from pars, a piece or a part. And that word is traced from pere-. So it’s… to part something. To set something apart.

Depart showed up in the mid thirteenth century as departen, and while it meant to depart as we know it, for a little while it also meant to separate into parts, which we don’t use at all anymore. It’s from the Old French departir, to divide, separate oneself, or even to die, from the Late Latin departire, to divide. The de- means from, and partire is to part or divide, so this word is to part from. That makes sense, although the separate into parts thing is still weird. Anyway, partire is from pars, which is from pere-. Man, is it just me, or are all these words really straightforward? How bizarre!

Now for a word where part is in the middle. Compartment showed up in the mid sixteenth century from the Middle French compartiment, from the Italian compartimento, from the Late Latin compartiri, to divide. The com- prefix is probably just intensive here, and the rest is from pars. So a compartment is something that’s really separated out.

Impart showed up in the early fifteenth century, although back then it meant to give part of your possessions, and then later on it meant to share or take part in. So while impart once referred to physical possessions, it morphed into non-physical things, and these days that’s the only way we use it. It’s from the Old French empartir/imparter, to allocate or share, from the Late Latin impartire, to share or divide with another. The in- is from en and means in, big shocker, and, well, partire again. Impart is to share in? I guess that kind of makes sense. Almost.



  1. Compartment is older than I thought. That word needs to be used more often, above and beyond glove compartment.

  2. Interesting to see 'part' being part of so many words!

  3. I can see depart as separate into parts. I don't know when I would use it like that, though. Strange.

  4. See, when you said "impart," the first thing I thought of was giving gifts.
    I only thought of wisdom afterward.


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