• abscond •
Pronunciation: êb-skahnd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive
Meaning: 1. To leave secretly, furtively, or quietly to avoid some sort of unpleasantness. 2. To hide oneself from view or scrutiny.
Notes: Although of Latin origin, the derivations of this word are strictly English: The person absconding is an absconder and absconding is both the adjective and noun. Abscondment, abscondence, even absconsion were tried for a while in the 17th century but were given up as quickly as they were taken up.
In Play: Abscond implies misbehavior, usually a specific crime specified by the prepositions with: "Fleetwood had safely tucked himself away in the jungles of Uruguay before the company realized he had absconded with $1 million of company funds." However, it can also imply a retreat to 'lie low' for whatever reason: "In the coldest weather ever known the mercury basely absconded into the bulb" (J. R. Lowell My Study Windows, 1870).
Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Latin abscondere "to hide" from ab "away" + condere "to put". Latin ab shares an origin with English of and off. The same PIE preposition emerged in Greek as apo "away from", while in Russian the initial [a] was dropped, giving po "according to, along". Latin condere is itself a reduced compound originally based on con "with" and the root *dhe- "put, do", which also became English do. In initial word position, [dh] became [f] in Latin, so this root can be found in Latin facere "do, make", the source of fact, faction, factory, fashion, and many others. It also reduced itself to the suffixes -fy, found in specify and the -fic in prolific. (I cannot abscond without specifically thanking Annette McMullen for the fact that she suggested today's Good Word.
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3 posts • Page 1 of 1
Interesting word and interesting definition. I related more with the "In Play" example given since I almost always use this word as if the word was the same as "steal". Never thought of it as meaning "to hide". Learn something new every day.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I'm going to change myself. -- Rumi
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