• 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.
Be who you are and say what you feel in your heart. Because those that matter, don't mind. And those that mind, don't matter.
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3 posts • Page 1 of 1
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