Printable Version
Pronunciation: im-pyut Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To attribute or assign blame for something to someone. 2. To ascribe to or credit with.

Notes: The action noun for this verb is imputation. It comes with two adjectives, an active one, imputative "characterized by being imputed", and a passive one, imputable "that may be imputed". The noun for only the latter is currently acceptable: imputability.

In Play: This verb is used far more often in its negative sense: Gladys Friday proved all the laziness imputed her when she began cutting work at the end of the week altogether." However, the positive sense still avails itself, especially when tinted by religious overtones: "Harvey Wallbanger continued to be imputed the righteousness of his father, the local vicar, long after his drinking did him in."

Word History: Today's Good Word was snitched from Old French emputer, slightly modified from Latin imputare "to reckon, ascribe". The Latin word contains in "in(to)" (in this case) + putare "to prune, reckon, settle an account". The preposition-prefix in was inherited from PIE en/on "in(to), which we see in Sanskrit antara "interior", Greek en "in", Irish i "in", Welsh yn "in", and Russian v "in", via on > von > v"n > vn, still visible in vnutrenii "inner, interior". Putare was made from a suffixed form PIE pau- "to cut, dig, strike", source also, without the suffix, of Latin pavire "to beat down, tread on" and Greek paien "to strike". In modern IE languages we find Lithuanian pjauti "cut, saw" and pjūklas "saw", and Old English pytt, Modern English pit, from the same source as Latin puteus "well" via its Germanic ancestors.

Dr. Goodword,

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