• pent •
pent • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Closely confined, penned, enclosed, strongly held back.
Notes: This adjective is most often used with the verb particles up and in, e.g. 'pent up anger' and 'pent in behind lips'. Today's word is an irregular past participle of pen, as in 'to pen up', like slept, learnt, and spelt. It is irregular in another way, too: it is spelt exactly the way it is pronounced.
In Play: Pent is rarely used without the verbal particle up: "Once Arthur had vented all his pent up emotion, he returned to his usual cheerful self." It does sometimes appear with in: "Sheldon's garden was pent in by stones he had removed from the ground as he created it." That said, pent does not require up or in: "Once the dam was completed, the long pent stream was released and quickly formed a swimming area."
Word History: First, today's Good Word is unrelated to the pent- in penthouse. This word was created by folk etymology from Anglo-French pentice, a building or other construction appended to a main one, an annex. So, this was the original meaning of penthouse. Pentice is an aphetic rendition of earlier appentice, a noun derived from appendre "to append". The origin of pen is something of a mystery. The best guess is that it is related to pin, which derives from PIE ben- "spike, needle" from the sense that original pens were made of spiked stakes connected by wattle. Little modern evidence supports this origin and precious little from Old Celtic languages.
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