Printable Version
Pronunciation: su-pêr-æn-yu-ayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To become or make obsolete, archaic, out of fashion, outdated, or antiquated. 2. To retire (someone) because of age or other reason.

Notes: We probably read the past participle of this word, superannuated, most frequently. This is a fancy euphemism for "antiquated" whether referring to things or "retire" or even "fire" when referring to people. Superannuation or (more rarely) superannuity are the nouns, which may refer to the process of superannuating or the pension paid to a superannuated person.

In Play: When used in reference to people this word usually means "to retire", though it is often pushed to simply mean "to fire": "Henry realized he was on the money train now and looked forward toward being handsomely superannuated in the future." Objects, too, may be removed from service for reasons other than age: "The librarians involved with superannuating the serial collections were known among the faculty as 'serial killers'."

Word History: Today's word comes from Modern Latin superannuatus, an alteration (perhaps under the influence of annual) of Medieval Latin superannatus "more than a year old" that usually referred to cattle. This word is composed of Classical Latin super "beyond, over" + annus "year" + -atus, an adjective suffix. Super started out as PIE uper "over, above", to which Greek added a breath to create hyper. The same word came to Sanskrit as upari, to English as over, to German as über, and to Irish as for. Some think annus comes from PIE at-no- "(the period) gone through" from at- "go" + -no-, the past participle ending. However, no other IE language seems to have a derivation of at- meaning "go", so others think it related to anus "ring, circle" (as in annular "ring-shaped"), since ancients could figure when the year came full circle.

Dr. Goodword,

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