• rencontre •
ren-kahn-têr, rahN-koN-trê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. An unexpected or casual meeting. 2. Combat, hostile clash, skirmish.
Notes: Seldom when a word is borrowed do both the borrowing and the Anglicization remain in the language as today's Good Word does. Rencontre is the exact French word meaning "meeting"; rencounter is the English redesign. However you spell it, do not confuse it with re-encounter "a second encounter".
In Play: In the milder sense above, we may hear such things as: "Agnes's rencontre with her ex-husband on the street was short and cold." The harsher sense has been reported thus: "According to Caroline Janet in Ends of War (2021, p. 92), Robert E Lee asked General Grant that the armies be kept separate in order to prevent unpleasant rencontres between the two."
Word History: Today's Good Word, as mentioned above, was picked up from French. French made its word by adding re- "again" to Late Latin incontrare "to meet, encounter, come face to face with", where it remains in Italian today. Late Latin incontrare comprises in "in" + contra "against, opposite" + verbal suffixes. The adverb-preposition contra seems to have originated as a derivation from Old Latin com "(together) with" + the comparative suffix, -ter. Old Latin com (Classical Latin cum) derived from PIE kom "by, beside, at, with", source also of ancient Greek koinos "common", Russian s(o) "with", Serbian sa "with", Welsh cyf-, cyn- "together, with, con-", Cornish kev- "con-", and Albanian kë- "com-". (Now let's thank our old friend and wordmaster George Kovac for discovering today's most unusual word and sharing it with us.)
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