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Use this forum to suggest Good Words for Professor Beard.


Postby tcward » Mon Mar 07, 2005 2:25 pm

Katy's little story reminded me of the plight my wife faces daily, trying to manage our two boys.

Etymologies from

plight (v.)
"pledge," obsolete except in archaic plight one's troth, from O.E. pligtan "endanger," verb form of pliht "danger, risk," from P.Gmc. *pleg- (cf. O.E. pleon "to risk the loss of, expose to danger," O.Fris., M.Du. plicht "care, carefulness," O.H.G. pfliht, Ger. pflicht "obligation, duty," M.Du. plien "to answer for, guarantee").

plight (n.)
"condition or state (usually bad)," c.1175, from Anglo-Fr. plit, O.Fr. pleit "condition" (13c.), originally "way of folding," from V.L. *plictum, from L. plicitum, neut. pp. of L. plicare "to fold, lay" (see ply (v.)). Originally in neutral sense (as in modern Fr. en bon plit "in good condition"), sense of "harmful state" is probably from convergence with plight (v.) via notion of "entangling risk, pledge or promise with great risk to the pledger."

As an aside, when I saw the German pflicht, I wondered whether this word may then be related also to the word conflict, which derives from Latin conflictus...

I also was intrigued by the relationship to pledge!

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Postby M. Henri Day » Wed Mar 09, 2005 12:05 pm

And don't forget the motto of the late Swedish king, «Plikten framför allt», which probably should not be translated as «Plight above all»....

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