• depose •
Pronunciation: di-poz • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. (Archaic) To put down, deposit. 2. To remove from high office. 3. To question a witness or suspect, to take testimony under oath that is recorded in an affidavit.
Notes: Today's word that has migrated far away from its original meaning (No. 1 above). The action noun for the modern usage is deposition. The verb comes with a passive adjective, deposable. The person being deposed is a deponent. Also, the archaic sense above (No. 1) still has a noun in common use: deposit.
In Play: The use of the legal sense above is widespread: "The higher the investigation into the misconduct surrounding the president goes, the broader the range of witnesses and suspects who want to be deposed rather than take the witness stand." The second meaning above is also quite widespread: "The plotters conspired to depose the king and replace him with one of his sons."
Word History: Today's Good Word is loot from English's favorite victim, French, this time déposer "drop off, deposit". This verb comprises dé "down, off, away (from)" + poser "to put, place", source also of English pose and position. Poser resulted from a remarkable confusion between Late Latin and Old French. Poser is structurally what French made from Latin pausare "to halt, pause". Somehow it was confused with what it had made from Latin ponere "to put, place", Old French pondre, today meaning "to lay (eggs)". Now, the origins of both ponere and pausare are veiled in mystery. We know pausare was a PIE word, for it shows up in Greek pausis "stopping, ceasing". Various attempts have been made to prove that the same is true of ponere, all of which are complicated by significant problems. (Gratitude today is owed wordmaster George Kovac of Miami, Florida, for recommending this very, very topical Good Word.)