Thursday, July 9, 2020

Language of Confusion: Do-, Part III

Back again! Quick reminder: the prefix do- (no relation to the word do) is from the Proto Indo European word for give. It shows up in a lot of places. Although as you’ll see, we’re almost out of words that actually have do- in them. Some of them don’t even have a d!

First today, condone. It showed up in 1857, surprisingly recently, meaning forgive or pardon (to condone something was to forgive someone for doing it), although it actually appeared in dictionaries in the sixteenth century—people just didn’t use it normally—and then by 1962 people were using it to mean to tolerate something. It comes from the classical Latin condonare, pardon, a mix of the prefix com-, which is probably just intensive here, and donare, to endow, which we’ve actually talked about already since it’s also the origin for endow. So I guess by condoning something you’re… really giving it?

Speaking of pardon, it’s also a do- word. And also the last word we’re looking at that actually has do- in it. Pardon showed up in the fourteenth century specifically referring to the forgiveness of sins, and then in a more general sense in the late fourteenth century. It’s from the Old French pardon, from the verb pardoner, to grant or forgive. That’s from the Medieval Latin perdonum, and from the Vulgar Latin perdonare. The per- means forward, and the rest is also from donare. To give forward is to forgive. Oh, wow. Par-don. For give. Mind = blown.

Next we’re looking at render, which is not related to rend in the least. Render has kind of a confusion origin. It showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning to repeat or say again, and in the late fourteenth century started to mean to hand over or deliver. In the late fifteenth century it was to return (like a verdict), and in the late sixteenth century it meant represent or depict (to render something). As for render’s origins, it’s from the Old French rendre, from the Vulgar Latin rendere, from the classical Latin reddere, to return or give back. The first part of the word is from re-, back, and the second part is from dare, previously mentioned as meaning to give. To render something is to give it back!

Surrender is from the same place. It showed up in the mid fifteenth century from the Old French surrendre, to give up. The sur- means over and the rest is just render. To give back over. To surrender. Not much more to add to that. If you want weirder prefixes, we can look at vendor, which is just from vend. Vend showed up in the early seventeenth century from the classical Latin vendere, tosell. It’s actually a contraction of venumdare, also to sell, and the venum means sold (and is actually the origin word of venal) while the dare is to give. To vend is to give for sale. Basically, this one was a long word and people kept shortening it.

Finally today, we’re looking at rent. Not like the past tense of rend, because much like render, it is in no way related. No, this is rend like people pay for lodgings. It’s a very old word, having shown up in the mid twelfth century meaning income or revenue. It’s from the Old French rente, from the Vulgar Latin rendita, and that one is from our old friend rendere—as in render. Rent is something rendered. And for some reason the French replaced the D with a T.



  1. Pardon and forgive. Too funny. When it makes sense, it really makes sense.

  2. I'm surprised rent has been that old.


Please validate me.