Exonerate

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Dr. Goodword
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Exonerate

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:42 pm

• exonerate •


Pronunciation: eg-zah-nêr-rayt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. Absolve from blame, clear of an accusation of wrongdoing. 2. Relieve of duty or obligation, release from responsibility.

Notes: In addition to exonerate, English once had a fairly popular word, onerate "to load, burden". Unfortunately, it expired late in the 19th century. Today's word comes with a complete set of Latinate derivations, though. Its adjective is exonerative, abstract noun, exonerative, and personal noun, exonerator.

In Play: We most frequently encounter today's word in its legalistic sense: "Sue Nami was indicted for the murder of her husband but was exonerated by the fact that she killed him in self-defense." We meet the exonerate less frequently in sense two above, but it remains available: "The company president seems to think that frequent TV appearances exonerate him from his administrative duties."

Word History: Today's Good Word was based on Latin exoneratus, the past participle of exonerare "to unload, remove a burden", comprising ex "(out) from, off of" + onerare "to load, burden, oppress". Ex descended from PIE eghs "out (of)", source also of Greek ex "out of" and Russian iz "out of". PIE eghs had a comparative form eks-tero, which became exterior in Latin, and a superlative eks-t(e)r-emo-, which Latin converted to extremus "farthest". Old French converted the latter word to extreme, at which point English borrowed it. Onerare was derived from onus, oneris "load, burden", as in the legal phrase onus probandi "burden of proving (proof)". Onus comes from PIE enos-/onos- "burden", seen in Sanskrit anah "cart, wagon" but nowhere else in the Indo-European languages. (Today's topical Good Word occurred to Dr. Goodword as he and Mrs. Goodword watched the Muller Hearings on TV, August 24, 2019.)
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rrentner
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Re: Exonerate

Postby rrentner » Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:24 pm

Related to onerous as well, I presume. I had never made the conscious connection between exoneration and onerous.

Philip Hudson
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Re: Exonerate

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:29 pm

Isn't there a public figure of today demanding exoneration?
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George Kovac
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Re: Exonerate

Postby George Kovac » Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:00 am

I take delight in promoting new uses for obscure words that cry out for exploitation.

Rreneter wrote:
Related to onerous as well, I presume. I had never made the conscious connection between exoneration and onerous.

Dr. Goodword wrote:
(Today's topical Good Word occurred to Dr. Goodword as he and Mrs. Goodword watched the Muller Hearings on TV, August 24, 2019.)

Those two observations led me to discover that “onerate” is already a word, albeit rare, meaning “to load, to burden.” I think we should make wider use of this obscure word, as in: “However, a careful reading of the inspector’s findings reveals that his report actually onerates the chief executive.”
"The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann, But Always Meeting Ourselves, NYT 6/15/09

damoge
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Re: Exonerate

Postby damoge » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:28 am

I would say, George, that the person in question was not "onerated" by the "inspector", but rather by himself.

Do love the word, though. Have to try hard to remember it. Memory being what it is now, the horse may have left already without saying goodbye.

(is that perhaps an example of another good word recently commented on?)
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George Kovac
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Re: Exonerate

Postby George Kovac » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:46 am

I would say, George, that the person in question was not "onerated" by the "inspector", but rather by himself.

Thanks for the observation. Is "onerate" a transitive or reflexive verb? I'll leave that usage question to the grammarians to sort out.

Do love the word, though. Have to try hard to remember it. Memory being what it is now, the horse may have left already without saying goodbye.

(is that perhaps an example of another good word recently commented on?)

Yes, in answer to your question, that was in a comment posted recently by Anna Coluthon.
"The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann, But Always Meeting Ourselves, NYT 6/15/09

damoge
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Re: Exonerate

Postby damoge » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:17 am

George, thanks as ever for your erudite response. I had, of course, forgotten Anna's name at the moment, do appreciate the reminder.
I also appreciate the grin peeking around your hand, and mirrored on my face.
Nothing so needed now as goodnatured humor.
Everything works out, one way or another

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Re: Exonerate

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:04 pm

I love this discussion. We should have more like this.
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