æ-rê-gayt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: 1. To lay claim to something to which you have no right; to appropriate inappropriately. 2. To claim something to which you have no right or legitimate claim for someone else.
Notes: We often use the adjective arrogant without thinking of its origins. It is easy, however, to see how arrogating is a form of arrogance, for you can arrogate importance as well as the property of others. Because arrogance has shifted its meaning, today's verb has created another adjective for itself, arrogative, as someone with arrogative tendencies. The noun is arrogation.
In Play: In its most direct sense, today's word refers to the action of laying claim to anything that isn't yours: "Ford Parker seems to have simply arrogated his father's car after driving it for two years." This word is always convenient around aggressive people who like to take control: "When did you arrogate the power and wisdom to organize our trip to the beach?"
Word History: Today's Good Word is built on the past participle, arrogatus, of the Latin verb arrogare "to arrogate", itself made up of ad "to + rogare "to ask". The ultimate source of the root in rogare, rog-, is the Proto-Indo-European root rog-/reg- "move in a straight line" with the Shifty O that is sometimes E. The O-form appears in many Latin words we borrowed: abrogate, interrogate, and prerogative. English directly inherited the root as rake. The E-form turns up in words referring to measuring sticks, such as ruler, which goes back to Latin regula "a straight stick". The other type of ruler should also be straight, so the word for "king" was also associated with this root; it turns up in Hindi raja and Latin rex (reg-s). The Latin word became roi "king" in French, the adjective of which, royal, we also pilfered. In English the E-form, reg-, turned out to be rich. Quite a derivational trip, don't you think?