Last week we considered some descendants of the Latin root cadere, to fall. This week we’ll take a look at some less likely descendants of that same word.
When the conductor’s baton falls it establishes the cadence, of the piece. Cadence showed up in English in the late 1300s, meaning flow of rhythm in verse or music.
The past participle of the Latin word cadere was casus, meaning a mishap, accident, chance or opportunity (not only can we fall on bad times, we can fall on good fortune). Casus gave birth to a number of English words, one of the first being case. Used as early as the 1200s to mean what befalls one, then in the 1300s adding its grammatical sense & the meaning an instance or example. From there it blossomed to include all the meanings of case we employ today.
In the late 1300s the word occasion came to English. It traveled through Old French from casus, & throws light on an occasion (or falling) being referred to with the idiom “what’s going down”.
Another form of casus/cadere is cidere. It brought us the word incident (meaning event) in the early 1400s. It also brought us recidivist, to fall back again, a word used to refer to one who falls back into sin in the 1400s & adding the meaning a relapsed criminal in the 1800s. Also born of cidere is the word coincide, meaning to fall together. Coincide showed up in the 1700s. And though a fallen apple might get turned into cider, there is no etymological relationship between cider & cidere.
When cadere made its way into Vulgar Latin, it was used to refer to the fall of the dice, then made its way through French to show up in the 1300s as the English word chance. In French law when land went to the state due to the lack of heirs, the Latin word excadere, to fall away became in French escheat, which made its way into English in the 1400s as cheat.
All from a little old word meaning to fall. I’m hoping, dear reader, you’ll post a comment. I’m particularly interested in which of these descendants of cadere surprised or intrigued you most.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Etymonline, Wordnik, Merriam-Webster & the OED
The Latin word meaning to fall is cadere. It’s sister word (a combining form with the same meaning), is cidere. Before reading on, sort through your brain’s language center for English words that have to do with falling & might have grown out of cadere or cidere.
Cascade, meaning waterfall, came to English in 1640 through Italian & French.
Cadence, meaning a flow of rhythm in music or verse, appeared in the 1300s through Middle French.
Decay showed up in the late 1400s through several varieties of French from the Latin decadere, to fall off.
Decadence arrived in the 1540s, meaning behavior that shows low morals.
Deciduous, meaning that which falls off, came to English in the 1680s straight from Latin. Originally, the falling items included petals, leaves and teeth. It wasn’t until the 1778 that deciduous referred to trees that drop their leaves (as opposed to evergeeens).
In 1705, the word coincide came to English straight from Latin, meaning to fall together, or to agree.
In the late 1300s accident was born, meaning an occurrence, incident, or event. Over the centuries, that simple event definition morphed to mean a chance event, & then a mishap.
And we’ll finish off with a real killer, the English noun marker –cide, also from cadere/cidere, an important element in pesticide, homicide, genocide, suicide, & many other English words, all suggesting some sort of fall.
Followers, can you come up with other cidere/cadere words? If so, please add them to this post in the comments section.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Wordnik, Etymonline, Merriam Webster, & the OED.
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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