• receipt •
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The act of receiving, as the receipt of a letter. 2. A written acknowledgement of the receipt of something, as a receipt for payment of a bill. 3. A recipe, a list of ingredients and instructions for mixing them.
Notes: Today's Good Word has been borrowed from French and Latin so many times that it comes with a very large family of paronyms. It is a noun derived from receive, which also produced reception, receptacle, and receiver. Remember that this family of words adheres to the "I before E except after C" rule of thumb in English spelling. Receipt is also related to recipe to the point that it is used as a synonym of this word in some regions.
In Play: Any written or printed document itemizing goods or services purchased qualifies as a receipt: "Winifred was suspicious when Howdy Madoff did not give her a receipt for the money Winifred invested through his company." This word seriously may be used as a surrogate for recipe. Erica Jong wrote in Fanny (1980), " They studied to be wise, to heal the Sick, to Preserve their ancient Herbal Receipts."
Word History: Middle English borrowed receite from Anglo-Norman French then, later, followed Middle French in returning the P from the Latin source of receite, Medieval Latin recepta "a medical prescription", but not pronouncing the P. Since this was a medical term, those using it, like doctors today, considered Latin better suited for their profession and status, and so gratuitously inserted a silent P. Recepta was the past participle of Late Latin recipere "to receive", Classical Latin "to take back". The original Latin verb came from re- "back, again" + capere "to take", a root we see in several other words borrowed from French and Latin, such as capture and captivate. Notice that the P is retained and pronounced in less technical words that English borrowed with the same root, such as reception, perception, and deception. (We wish Suzanne Mazel to know that she is in receipt of a hearty mazel tov from us for suggesting today's Good Word.)
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