• abate •
ê-bayt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. (without object) To lessen, diminish, grow less intense, or widespread, as in the storm abated. 2. (with an object) To reduce, cause to become less, as in abate an odor with a deodorant. 3. To end, to cease or cause to cease, as in the judge abated the proceedings.
Notes: Today's Good Word comes with a noun, abatement, meaning "a reduction, decrease". You can use our old standby, abating, of course; this word also serves as an adjective. An abater is someone who abates, but an abator is a legal term, referring to someone who takes control of a property between the death of the owner and the heirs claiming it.
In Play: This verb is used mostly without an object (intransitively): "The noise upstairs has been going on for the better part of an hour without abating (or abatement)." A frequent implication of this verb is that the activity associated with it diminished until it ended: "When the bloviating of Myna Bird abated, others chimed in with their two cents' worth." This word is often mentioned in connection with economic activity: "Tax abatements are the greatest attractions for luring companies to states."
Word History: Old English picked this word up from Old French abattre "beat down, cast down". French inherited it from Vulgar Latin abbatere, from Latin ad "(up) to" + battuere "to beat". English received many words based on the PIE root bhat- "hit" through its Old Germanic ancestors (German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish) and borrowed many others from Romance languages (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish). Among words with Germanic ancestry we find beat, bat, and batter (verb and noun). Words borrowed from French include abattoir, battle, battalion, and debate. (Thanks to Dr. Margie Sved who, back in January, recommended we examine abattoir, in search of which I found a more interesting and genteel story behind today's Good Word.)
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