Printable Version
Pronunciation: pêr-pê-trayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To commit an act of misconduct, to carry out something that is wrong, harmful or criminal.

Notes: Today we have a word with the negative sense of perform. It comes with an action noun, perpetration and two personal nouns, perpetrator and the feminine perpetratress, which is still around. We have to remove the suffix -ate before creating the rarely used passive adjective, perpetrable.

In Play: The acts we perpetrate should all be bad ones: "Robin Banks perpetrated several crimes to become president of a string of national banks." The bad act doesn't have to be a crime: "The misjudgment of Robin's character perpetrated by the board of his bank did not go unnoticed."

Word History: Here is another Good Word made from the past participle, perpetratus, of a Latin verb, this time perpetrare "to perform, accomplish". This word combines per- "through, thoroughly" + patrare "execute, achieve, accomplish". The prefix per- was copied from the PIE preposition per "forward, through, before", which arrived in Latin unscathed in form and function, but became par "by (means of)" by the time it reached French (as in 'par avion'). As we have seen before, it became for and fore in English, vor "before" in German, peri "around" in Greek, and pere- "through, over" in Russian. The root of patrare is based on pater "father", from PIE pêter- "father", source also of Sanskrit pitar, Greek pater, English father, German Vater, Dutch vader, French père, and Italian and Spanish padre. In Portuguese, padre used to refer to priests; pai is the word for an ordinary father.

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!