Printable Version
Pronunciation: ri-dækt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To delete or obscure sensitive information in a document. 2. (Rare) To edit for publication. 3. (Obsolete) To draft, outline, or compose, e.g. an edict or announcement.

Notes: The adaptations of this word in other European languages simply mean "edit", e.g. French redacteur "editor" and Russian redaktirovat' "to edit". In English, however, a redactor edits to remove or obscure sensitive or embarrassing material in a manuscript before publication. The action noun is redaction and the adjective is redactorial.

In Play: There is always a strong hint of subreption hanging over today's word: "The indictment was heavily redacted; the names of the accused had been removed for 'security reasons'." We might even call it a smell: "However, the redacted names could be seen by copying the computer file and pasting it in an open word processing file."

Word History: English created today's Good Word from Latin redactus, the past participle of redigere "bring back, reduce", comprising re(d)- "back, again" + the combining form of agere "to drive, act, move". The D in re(d)- appears only before vowels (see also redolent). Etymonline has an interesting discussion of this prefix, if you're interested. Agere is based on PIE ag- "to drive, set in motion ", found also in Greek agein "to lead, guide, drive ", Sanskrit ajati "drives", and Welsh aeth "went". English borrowed heavily from the lexical family of agere. Agent came from the present participle, agen(t)s, and act, action, actor are all based on the family of the past participle actus. (Now let's thank Joakim Larsson of Sweden, a long-time contributor of Good Words as excellent and topical as today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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