Printable Version
Pronunciation: rahn-tyay Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A person of independent means, someone living on the income from investments.

Notes: No, this isn't simply the French pronunciation of renter. It is a completely different French word that has retained its French pronunciation from 1798 to this day.

In Play: The source of rentiers' wealth is no longer a concern; it may be earned or inherited: "Ty Kuhn was a wealthy rentier who retired early to spend more time with hit family". Rentiers are often considered the 'idle class' by workers: "The working-class has every reason to complain that they are paying heavy taxes to support idle rentiers who had invested in the national debt."

Word History: This IS the French word rentier "person of independent means", used in English without permission. The French word is based on rendre "give back, render", which English borrowed from Old French as render. Old French inherited this word from Vulgar (Street) Latin rendere from Classical Latin reddere "give back, return, restore". The nasalization is probably the due to the influence of this word's antonym prendere "to take". Reddere is a combination of re- "back, again" + dare "to give" (do "1st person singular", das "2nd", dat "3rd"). This verb is at the bottom of the English borrowings donor, dowry, endow, Dorothy, and Theodore. It came down to Latin from PIE do- "give", also the source of Russian dat' "to give", Armenian tam "to give", Welsh dawn "gift", and Lithuanian duoti "to give". (Today's gratitude is owed George Kovac, wordmaster par excellence, for today's garden path Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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