Printable Version
Pronunciation: dee-said Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To settle conclusively all contention and uncertainly about, cut off debate because a conclusion has been reached. 2. To determine an outcome: "Harry's homer decided the game." 3. To make up your mind.

Notes: This word comes bearing a plethora of derivationally related words, including a noun, decision, and an adjective, decisive. We have at least two adverbs for this verb, decisively, but also decidedly. This is not an exhaustive list.

In Play: This word comes in transitive and intransitive flavors. The first and second senses allow a direct object: 1. "The supreme court decided the case." 2. "Buddy was happy that his vote decided the election of his girlfriend as sixth-grade president." The third meaning is intransitive, requiring the preposition on: "Henry decided on the boat at home." Notice that on is required by the verb without telling where the decision was made.

Word History: You know the grisly company of homicide, patricide, and fratricide. Of course you do. But did you know that decide belongs to this motley company? Decide comes from Old French decider, inherited from Latin decidere "to cut off, decide", composed of de- "off of, from" + caedere "to cut". In the history of prodigy we saw how an accented A in Latin could become I when combined with another element in a derived word. Here we see it again. It is related to Latin homicida "murderer" from homo "man" + -cidium "killer". Cidium came from the verb caedere "to cut (down)" and transitioned to "kill" the same way cut down transitioned from its original meaning to "kill", as in to be cut down in the prime of life. (We have decided to thank David Lloyd-Jones for thinking of us when the connection of decide with homicide occurred to him.)

Dr. Goodword,

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