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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:55 pm

• denizen •

Pronunciation: den-ê-zên • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Any living organism indigenous to a place, or that otherwise naturally inhabits it; the antonym of alien. 2. Any species introduced by humans into a place, but which now maintains itself naturally, without the intervention of humans.

Notes: This word applies to plants, animals, as well as humans. Denizens of the deep refers to aquatic life, oaks are denizens of many North American forests, and denizens of the air are birds. Denizen has been used in the past to refer to words, get being a denizen of English, obtain, an alien. I assume this usage to be a figurative application of the meanings above. This word may be used "as is" for an adjective, as a denizen plant. The abstract noun for denizen is denizenship.

In Play: This word is used mostly in the sense of people born and raised in a town or country: "The tension between the denizens of the town and the college population was known as the "town-gown relationship". Of course, this word, like most others, is subject to metaphorical usage: "When Jim Beam returned home from college, he visited the denizens of his favorite bar and found them all there, sitting on the same stools where he had left them."

Word History: Denizen was borrowed from Anglo-Norman deinzein, based on deinz "within, inside". This word was derived from Late Latin deintus "from within", comprising de- "from" + intus "within". Latin inherited this word from Proto-Indo-European entos "within, inside", which Greek preserved better as entos "within, inside". Entos can be reduced to en "in" + tos, an adverbial suffix indicating origin. En is visible in all the Western Indo-European languages. English has in, inner and inn. French and Spanish have en, and German and Italian, in. The Slavic languages at one point in their history didn't like words beginning with vowels and placed a V before en. Later the en dropped off so "in" today in Russian is simply v, but we still see the N in vnutri "inside". (Today we thank Perry Lassiter, denizen and Grand Panjandrum of the Alpha Agora, for suggesting this Good Word.)
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Perry Lassiter
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Re: Denizen

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:17 pm

What's been your experience with this word? Most of the time I find that it is referring to lowlife type people, unless it's being used in a humorous way implying that normal people are lowlifes. Very mild, but the word by itself makes me thing of people lurking around the slums.

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Re: Denizen

Postby call_copse » Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:05 am

Slava seemed to think it somewhat derogatory in tone. Mind you he / she (I'll not assume) takes offence at almost anything :) It has however never had a negative connotation to my mind.

Having said that I would find it hard to argue that you would ever say 'He was an upstanding denizen of the community', but perhaps that is just not a suitable use case for the word.

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Re: Denizen

Postby MTC » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:39 am

Denizens of the deep have a lowly reputation, but not a bad one.

It turns out (a cliche I love) "denizen" has additional senses revolving around the concept of foreign species or persons being naturalized:

den·i·zen (dn-zn)
1. An inhabitant; a resident: denizens of Monte Carlo.
2. One that frequents a particular place: a bar and its denizens.
3. Ecology An animal or a plant naturalized in a region.
4. Chiefly British A foreigner who is granted rights of residence and sometimes of citizenship.

tr.v. den·i·zened, den·i·zen·ing, den·i·zens Chiefly British
To make a denizen of; grant rights of residence to.
[Middle English denisein, from Anglo-Norman denzein, from deinz, within, from Late Latin deintus, from within; see dedans.]
deni·zen·ation n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Denization is an obsolete process in English Common Law, dating from the 13th century, by which a foreigner became a denizen, gaining some privileges of a British subject, including the right to hold English land, through letters patent. Denization fell into disuse when statutory mechanisms for naturalisation developed.

Having practiced Immigration Law, I was still surprised by "denization," the Common Law antecedent of naturalization, a process now governed entirely by statute in the U.S. According to the Office of Homeland Security 694,193 foreigners became denizens of the U.S. in 2011. Here in China most denizens would give their eye teeth to become U.S. citizens.

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Re: Denizen

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:14 pm

We had a news item on the 6pm edition last
night where a bull, a young one obviously, moose
was seen in the outskirts of town. The anchor
said moose are not denizens of these parts.
I would welcome them, but from a distance.
I've been very close and taken photos of them
in the Rockies, and they are very big. Would
not want to tangle with "them thar' denizens".
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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