Coeval

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Dr. Goodword
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Coeval

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Apr 10, 2021 8:50 pm

• coeval •


Pronunciation: ko-ee-vêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun

Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Of the same age, existing in the same time frame, of coincident duration. 2. (Noun) Someone or something that existed at the same time as someone or something else.

Notes: No, this word does not mean "equally evil" even though it sounds like it; notice the third vowel. The adverb of this word is formed with the usual suffix -ly: coevally, and a noun by adding -ity, coevality, though, presumably, the clumsier coevalness would pass muster. This adjective may be used as a personal noun, as 'to be the coeval of George Washington'. Don't forget to pronounce the E; it isn't silent.

In Play: We may use this adjective with the prepositions to or with: 'coeval to' or 'coeval with', though 'coeval with' makes more sense: "Andy Belham's thinking is coeval with that of Neanderthal man!" The preposition of sounds better with the noun: "My grandfather was a coeval of Mark Twain, but didn't have Twain's sense of humor."

Word History: Today's Good Word originates in Latin coaevus "of the same age", based on com- "with" + aevum "never ending time, generation". The same Proto-Indo-European word came up in the Latin words that English borrowed as longevity, medieval, and primeval. It arose in Greek as aion "age", which English borrowed for its eon, and Sanskrit ayuh "life, health". Finally, Old Germanic aiwi "ever" became Modern German ewig "eternal, forever". (We are grateful to our coeval and long-time contributor Professor Kyu Ho Youm of the University of Oregon for suggesting today's Good Word.)
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David Myer
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Re: Coeval

Postby David Myer » Sun Apr 11, 2021 9:49 pm

A very useful word. We have a large chart on the back of the lavatory door showing time lines for important people in history and how they overlap. This is surely a coeval chart. It now has a name; it didn't before. It was just that chart on the back of the door.

But I am uncomfortable with the Good Doctor's suggestion that it may be used with either 'to' or 'with'. I do certainly agree that 'with' is appropriate. From my Latin studies, I note that two entirely distinct cases are attached to the words 'to' and 'with'. The former is dative and the latter ablative. On that basis, 'with' might be interchangeable with 'by' or 'from', but certainly not 'to' or 'for'.

This is particularly apparent with the word 'different'. Something is different 'from' something else. Never different 'to', which, sadly, is commonly used. I also hear 'different than', and of course that too is simply a corrupt usage. Interestingly, it seems to me, 'compared to' has a different meaning from 'compared with'. The former is looking for differences, where the latter is looking for similarities, or something along those lines. Am I right?

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Re: Coeval

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:23 am

I was always bothered by the same two prepositions used with talk: 'talk to' and 'talk with' are used today interchangeably. I always felt that to was too aggressive, as in 'I gave him a good talking-to.' I try to say 'talk with someone', implying equality of the coconversationalists.

But then with equal we don't seem to have a choice: 'She is equal to her husband' sounds better than 'She is equal with her husband.'
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bbeeton
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Re: Coeval

Postby bbeeton » Mon Apr 12, 2021 3:44 pm

It seems that some of the examples given for "coeval" I've heard more frequently used with "contemporary". (For example, "my grandfather was contemporary with Mark Twain".) What is the distinction? (There's also "contemporaneous", but that seems to imply a shorter duration.)

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Re: Coeval

Postby David Myer » Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:34 am

Interesting, Barbara.

But doesn't contemporary suggest that there is some level of interaction or connection between the parties? He was my contemporary at school. This suggests that we at least over-lapped and may or may not have actually known each other. Coeval presumably suggests that the parties merely existed at the same time.

Pope Honorius III was cooeval with Genghis Khan.

They probably never met or overlapped (although they may have heard of each other) but they certainly existed at the same time.

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Re: Coeval

Postby David Myer » Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:36 am

I like it, Dr Goodword. I had not previously considered the nuance in "talking with" as against "talking to". But your point is well made. I will work hard to talk with people in future rather than talking to them, or heaven forfend, talking at them.


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