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Neighbor

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Neighbor

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:50 pm

• neighbor •


Pronunciation: nay-bêr • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A person or place near some other person or place.

Notes: This is a common enough word with an interesting history. Don't forget to add a U if you are outside the US, where it is everywhere spelled neighbour. The area in which everyone or everything is nearby is called a neighborhood. We have an adjective, too, neighborly "friendly, kindly". This word works as well as an adverb, as to work together neighborly. Finally, the noun can be used as a verb: "The square neighbors the old town."

In Play: Neighbors are neighbors, relatives are relatives, and friends are friends. Many relationships are reflected in nouns like these: "Maynard smiled as he watched the wind blow the leaves from his back yard to his neighbor's." However, such relationships are subject to change: "The romance of Larry Lovett and Lorry Lovelace resulted from a snafu when a friend gave Larry Lorry's address instead of her neighbor's by mistake."

Word History: This word in Old English was nehegebur "neighbor" from neah "near" + gebur "dweller". The comparative of neah, was near and the superlative was niehst, which became Modern English next, as in next-door neighbor. In Middle English neah came to be spelled neigh, thence nigh, as in, "Evening is drawing nigh", though it remained neigh in today's Good Word. Gebur "dweller, farmer, countryman" was a derivative of bur "dwelling", which went on to become bower "small cottage, covered booth, arbor". Neighbor is a cognate of Dutch nabuur, German Nachbar, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish nabo, and Icelandic nábúi—all meaning "neighbor". (Let's all thank David McWethy, our neighbor in a neighboring bower in the Agora for recommending, in neighborly fashion, today's Good Word.)
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Re: Neighbor

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:25 pm

Like the priest and the levite, we seem to be avoiding the neighbor. My question is where all the extraneous "gh"'s came from, and why hasn't English ditched them long ago? Why might instead of mite and night rather than nite. Why nigh rather than ny or nie and neighbor rather than nabor or naibor or even naybor?
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Re: Neighbor

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:31 pm

What the @#%&# are you saying, Perry?!?! Are you advocating spelling reform for the ENGLISH language? Fie on thee and thine ilk. Spelling reform in a language where most of the people are somewhat literate only creates alternate spellings. The old ones must be retained for reading old writing. And what would be the use or a spelling bee if we reformed spelling? Good spelling used to be a mark of a gentleman/gentlewoman. Would you have the hoi polloi enabled to act the gentleman? Think it over, please. :)
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Re: Neighbor

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:21 pm

Or one might recast my question to be requesting, rather than spelling reform, the etymology of the "ght" sequence.
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