Podcast abide

Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-baid Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive, transitive

Meaning: 1. (Intransitive) To live in the sense of dwell, to reside. 2. (Intransitive) To continue in existence, to exist unchanged in some state. 3. (Transitive) To tolerate, put up with, endure.

Notes: Historically the past participle of this word was abidden, but the past participle assimilated with the past tense a century or so ago, so now this verb is conjugated abide, abode, (has) abode. However, since this latter form is now used for the noun (an abode), the verb seems to be converting to a regular verb: abide, abided, (has) abided. This trend should continue if this seldom used verb survives at all.

In Play: The original sense of today's lovely word has pretty much been replaced by the simpler verb (to) live, but it holds its ground for those unafraid of touching up their conversations with a bit of poetry now and again: "How Lester can abide in such a hovel as he inhabits is beyond explication." I still like to hear the noun from the old past participle when in such a poetic mood: "Postlewaith retired from cricket in 2002 and now occupies a small but cozy abode tucked into a garden of his own making just outside Stikiwick."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a rarity, indeed: a genuine unborrowed English word. It came to us from the Old English verb abidan, comprising a-, an intensifier prefix + bidan "to remain". The same root that came through the Germanic languages to English as bidan emerged in Latin as fidere "to trust, confide" and fidus "faithful (remaining unchanged)". Words with the Latin root were borrowed en masse by English in words like fiancé, affidavit, fiduciary, and confide. (We simply could not abide forgetting to thank Jaime Jamison for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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