Printable Version
Pronunciation: kah-jê-tayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To ponder, deliberate, ruminate, reflect on, think deeply about something for a long time.

Notes: Cogitate comes with a large lexical family, beginning with the expectable Latinate noun, cogitation, and adjective, cogitative "thinking" and its noun, cogitativity "the capacity to think". But there is another adjective, cogitant, and its noun, cogitancy, with the same meanings. A deep thinker is a cogitator.

In Play: This word refers always to deep, concentrated thinking: "Considering the current divorce rate, we might want to cogitate on why marriage remains so popular." Brooding is another word that comes to mind when we hear this word: "The current political situation sent Pierce Deere headlong into brooding and cogitating over it."

Word History: In his 1641 book, written in Latin, Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes sought to prove his own existence and that of the world with the claim, Cogito, ergo sum "I think, therefore I am", a phrase that haunts philosophy to this very day. The past participle of cogito, cogitatus, is the origin of today's Good Word. Cogitare comprises co(m)- "(together) with" + agitare "to lead, drive", in the sense of "bring together", as we do with thoughts when thinking. Agitare is the frequentative of agere "to drive, activate", made from PIE ag- "drive, lead, move", source also of Sanskrit ajati "drives", Armenian acem "lead, bring", Greek agein "to lead", and Welsh eyt "to go". English borrowed agere in many forms: the present participle, agen(t)s was borrowed as agent, and the past participle, actus, was borrowed as act and in actor and active. (Now we should thank Susan Maynard for yet another Good Word with a very rich and easily traceable history.)

Dr. Goodword,

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