Printable Version
Pronunciation: æb-nê-gayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To renounce, to emphatically reject. 2. To deny, to retract or recant.

Notes: Today's typical Latin borrowing comes with a substantial family of derivations from that language. The action noun is abnegation and the agent noun is abnegator (watch the O in -or). The seldom used adjective is abnegative with its adverb, abnegatively.

In Play: Abnegate is probably used more often in referring to renunciation: "Penelope told Reginald that if he didn't abnegate all rights to the TV remote control, she would divorce him." It may, however, be used in reference to a simple denial: "Reginald abnegated any and all knowledge of such rights, so Penelope had no choice."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from abnegatus, the past participle of the verb abnegare "to refuse, reject". This verb is made up of the preposition ab "(away) from" + negare "to deny". Negare comes from the negative particle ne "no, not" found in Latin and all the Romance and Slavic languages. When used as the stem of other words, it attaches a G, neg-, which we also see in English nought. Ever wonder why negotiations are so negative? Negotiate comes from Latin negotiari "to transact business" based on neg- "not" + otium "leisure". Odd way to get down to business, isn't it? (We have to get down to business now and thank Eric Berntson for suggesting today's very Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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