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Pronunciation: pêr-mit Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive & intransitive

Meaning: 1. (Transitive) Allow, authorize, admit. 2. (Intransitive: permit of): Make possible, facilitate, foster, invite.

Notes: English creates a countable noun out of this verb by simply shifting the accent back a syllable: pêr-mit. A new verb is then created from this noun: to permit "to issue a permit". The action noun for the original verb is permission; 'to give someone permission' is to permit him. The adjective is permissive "to permit excessively". Permitters permit permittees to pass through.

In Play: A topical subject in 2021 might be expressed like this: "Some states permit you to wander about without a mask during the pandemic". The intransitive sense of this word might be heard in sentences like this: "The ideology of nationalism has so many variants, it permits of no simple definition." The denominal sense may be heard in expressions like this: "The state may permit deer hunters out of season when herds get too large."

Word History: English took this one from Old French permetre but followed the spelling of Latin permittere "let pass, let go, allow, grant", consisting of per-"through, by, for" + mittere "release, send". Per is from PIE per-/por- "through, over, thorough", which also went into the making of English pier. In Middle English it was per "bridge support", taken from Medieval Latin pera "breakwater". Por- emerges in German fahren and Old English faran "to travel by vehicle". It also turns up in Norwegian fjord "inlet, long, narrow bay" and English ford "a shallow stretch of a river that allows passage". The origin of Latin mittere is another matter. The nouns from this word seem to all have the root -miss-: mission, permission, admission. However, we cannot find descendants in any other Indo-European language.

Dr. Goodword,

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