Thursday, July 7, 2022

Language Of Confusion: -Ceed, Part I

Ah, another multi-parter. I never learn. This time, it’s words that have -ceed in them (obviously), as well as -cess, since they’re usually related.
The root of all these words is cede, to yield or give way to. It showed up kind of late, in the early-mid seventeenth century, coming from the French céder, to sell, and classical Latin cedere, to give up. Huh, you give up something you sell, so pretty consistent definition, actually. Anyway, cedere comes from the Proto Indo European ked-, to go or to yield. Okay, it’s really consistent.
Succeed showed up in the late fourteenth century, while success didn’t show up until the sixteenth century, and interestingly they both originally meant to come next after (as in one person succeeding another) or an outcome, not meaning to be successful until the nineteenth century. Their origins are pretty much the same, as succeed comes from the Old French succeder and classical Latin succedere (to succeed), while success comes from the Latin successus (success), the noun form of succedere. That word is actually a mix of the prefix sub-, meaning next to or after here, and cedere, making it to yield after. Makes sense for the original definition of succeed, I guess.
Next, exceed showed up in the late fourteenth century, from the Old French exceder and exces, respectively. Much like success, excess comes from the classical Latin excessus, and that, like exceed, is from the verb excedere, which actually means to leave. One of the other definitions of cedere is to go, and mixed with the prefix ex-, out, the word is to go out. And that morphed into meaning to go beyond.
Proceed showed up in the late fourteenth century—after process, which showed up in the beginning of the century. It’s pretty much the same origin as the previous two words, from the Old French proceder, classical Latin processus, from the verb procedere, to proceed. The pro- comes from the Proto Indo European per-, forward, making to proceed “to go forward”, while process is the act of carrying something on. These origins can get very formulaic, can’t they?
Finally today, necessary. It showed up in the mid fourteenth century, but back then it was a noun meaning something needed before it became the adjective we know it as today. It comes from the Old French necessaire, from the classical Latin necessarius, which is also just necessary, and actually has a shorter noun form, necesse. The prefix here is the little used ne-, from the Proto Indo European root meaning not, making the word something not yielded to. Because, you know, it’s necessary.
That’s all for now. There will be more fun next week!
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language


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