Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
Posts: 5071
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA


Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:33 pm

• cognate •

Pronunciation: kahg-nayt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun

Meaning: 1. Having a common ancestor, belonging to the same larger family, as cousins are cognate, and English name is cognate of Latin nomen, both descended from PIE no-men-. 2. Related or analogous in nature, quality or function, as chemistry is cognate of physics. 3. (Scottish law). A relative on the mother's side, the antonym of agnate, related to the father's side.

Notes: Be careful: this word is often confused with synonym, words that are semantically identical. Cognate works as well as a noun as an adjective: "English name is a cognate of Latin nomen." The abstract noun for this countable noun is cognation, not to be confused with cognition. Today's Good Word has nothing to do with cognac, excepting only that its author enjoys the occasional dram.

In Play: The Word History section of the Good Words is all about cognation: "Saxon is cognate with the words for 'stranger' in most Celtic languages, while the word for 'Welsh' means 'foreigner' in old Saxon." In nonlinguistic use, this word may refer to almost any other relationship held together by a single feature: "The news media are a set of cognate information services, including radio, television, newspapers, and magazines."

Word History: Today's word comes to us from Latin cognatus "of common descent", comprising com- "(together) with" + gnatus "born", past participle of gnasci, and older form of nasci "to be born". The gn in the older word is a reduced form of the PIE word gen- "give birth, beget, generate". The past participle of the newer form of this word is natus, the ultimate origin of the English borrowing native, (pre)natal, and natural. It can be seen in a multitude of English Latinate borrowings, including genius, generate, genuine, and genocide. English also inherited this word via its Germanic ancestors, as kin, king, and kind "type, species". (Now let's thank Jeremy Busch and William Hupy, cognate participants in the Alpha Agora, for recommending this Good Word many long months ago.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword

Junior Lexiterian
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 5:26 pm

Re: Cognate

Postby Pattie » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:31 am

Here's another use for cognate: in the ratified little world of parliamentary activity that occupies my working week, cognate usually refers to related bills that may be debated together although are, procedurally, dealt with separately.

George Kovac
Posts: 228
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:54 am
Location: Miami

Re: Cognate

Postby George Kovac » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:14 am

Dr. Goodword wrote: "Saxon is cognate with the words for 'stranger' in most Celtic languages, while the word for 'Welsh' means 'foreigner' in old Saxon."

Those original meanings are fascinating because of their somewhat pejorative connotations ("foreigner" and "stranger" are often suspect categories), connotations that may be unknown to many proud living descendants of those tribal groups.

A while ago a respectable newspaper ran a story which described an unhappy commercial transaction in which one of the parties, according to the story, “welshed” on the deal. Predictably, an irate resident of Wales wrote a letter to the editor scolding the newspaper for using such an offensive verb. The newspaper published the letter in full, but captioned it “scotch that usage.”
“The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words.” Colum McCann “But Always Meeting Ourselves” New York Times, June 15, 2009

User avatar
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 5538
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Re: Cognate

Postby Slava » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:41 pm

So I'm not going out on a limb if I say that cognomen is a cognate of cognate?
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.

Return to “Good Word Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests