Does this word look to you like it’s missing an st at the beginning? Or, if you’re thinking of business, say shipping, an m? Or does it seem like a name for a precious stone? Or a girl? Or a theological disposition? All are definite overtones, and you may be led to agonize over the actual meaning of the word. It may not help you to know that this word is not a verb – it’s a noun and an adjective. It comes from Latin ad “to” and gnasci “be born,” which is from gen “beget.” Notice how the e dropped out of the root? This is called the “zero grade” of the gen root. It gives it that blocked-nose gn pairing, a bit of an ugly couple, to my eyes and tongue, anyway. You see it also in cognate, which is not about cognition – cognate words are words that come from the same origin (English hound and German Hund, for instance). Cognate is used outside of linguistics to mean “descended from a common ancestor.” So is agnate, but the difference is that agnate means specifically “descended from a common male ancestor.” So half-siblings sharing the same father are agnate, but half-siblings sharing the same mother aren’t. Agnate is also used in linguistics (and elsewhere) to mean “akin” or “of the same nature”; syntactically, for instance, two sentences are agnates of each other if they say essentially the same thing in different form: Jack saw the dog; The dog was seen by Jack. (By this explanation is your lexical anagnorisis achieved!)
Be a patron!Support Sesquiotica and get extra premium content and goodies. Starts as low as $1 a month! Find out more and subscribe on Patreon.com
I am for hireI earn my living as an independent editor, writer, and educator. Find out more and contact me at jamesharbeck.com.
Buy the T-shirt (or coffee mug or hip flask)
Wear it proudly:
I operate on a NEED-TO-KNOW basis. I need to know EVERYTHING.
Buy it at cafepress.ca/sesquiphernalia
12 Gifts for Writers ebook – free download
Buy my books
Buy my books on Lulu.com:
- Confessions of a Word Lush (paperback)
- Confessions of a Word Lush (ebook)
- Songs of Love and Grammar (paperback)
- Songs of Love and Grammar (ebook)
- 12 Gifts for Writers (print edition)
You can also get them on Amazon.com. Please note that I make less than half as much per book if you buy them there, however.
Word Tasting Notes Google groupGet just the word tasting notes daily by email – join the Google Word Tasting Notes group.
- 365 words for drunk
- Nothing to chauffeur a classiomatic
- What do we care about, really?
- An article title, "An article title 'An article title needs commas' needs commas," needs commas
- around, about, approximately
- confident in or about?
- To be, or not to be, that is the question
- turn the other cheek
- I plight thee my troth
- Coffice Space
- from the bookshelf
- language and linguistics
- new old words
- Poetry Minute and a Half
- pronunciation tips
- sentence tastings
- The Week
- Word Country
- word pictures
- word portraits
- word reviews
- word sommelier
- word tasting notes