Thursday, August 12, 2021

Language Of Confusion: -Flict, Redux

Another redo this week, and a fairly short one to boot. My mind is definitely already checked out on vacation.
Conflict showed up in the early fifteenth century, coming from the classical Latin conflictus, which is just conflict. Shocking, I know. It’s a mix of the prefix con-, with or together, and fligere, to beat or strike. So a conflict is when you and someone else are striking each other together? I guess that makes sense.
Afflict showed up in the late fourteenth century, but back then it meant to cast down, and it didn’t mean to be afflicted with something until the early sixteenth century. It comes from the classical Latin afflictare, to afflict, a mix of the prefix ad-, to, and fligere. To afflict is to strike to. I guess when you’re afflicted with something, it strikes you.
Inflict showed up in the mid sixteenth century, and it’s pretty much the same as the other two. It comes from the classical Latin inflectus, from infligere, to inflict. The in- is, well, in, so with fligere, it’s to strike in. Um, sure. Whatever.
And there is one more word we’re going to look at, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never looked at it before. That word is… profligate. Yes, it’s a word. It showed up in the early sixteenth century, making it older than inflict. Originally it meant overthrown or defeated, but then sometime in the late eighteenth century it started to mean recklessly immoral, which is its current definition. It comes from the classical Latin profligatus, defeated, from profligare, to defeat or cast down. The pro- means down or forth, so profligate is to strike down. I’ve never heard or seen this word used, so it can have any definition it wants.
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate


  1. Not sure I've ever seen profligate used anywhere.

  2. Am I the only one familiar with profligate? I must be. I guess it's used more in an old-timey way. Yeah, it's something that people in authority use when talking about gamblers and thieves and prostitutes.

    Afflict didn't come from a religious place, did it? It seems like it should have.


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