Chapter 12: Latin Present Participles and Gerundives

§82. English Derivatives from Latin Present Participles

 English derivatives from Latin pres. participle in –ant-/-ent-/-ient English derivatives from Latin noun in –antia/-entia/-ientia
 portare important importance
 stare constant, instant, distant, extant stance, constancy, instance, substance, circumstance[1]
 sedere dissident, president, resident presidency, residence
 tenere abstinent, (in)contient, (im)pertinent abstinence, (in)continence, (im)pertinence
 videre evident, provident (= prudent) evidence, providence (= prudence)
 agere agent, cogent, exigent, intransigent agency, cogency, exigency
 cadere decadent, accident(al), incident(al), coincident(al), occident(al) cadence, decadence, incidence, coincidence
 cedere antecedent, decedent antecedence, precedence
 currere current, concurrent, recurrent currency, occurrence, recurrence
 ferre afferent, efferent, different, preferent circumference, conference, inference, interference, preference, transference
 ponere component, deponent, exponent, opponent, proponent
 loqui eloquent, grandiloquent eloquence, grandiloquence
 sequi consequent, subsequent sequence, consequence
 capere incipient, percipient, recipient
 facere deficient, (co)efficient, proficient, sufficient, abortifacient, rubefacient efficiency, proficiency, etc.
 gradi gradient, ingredient
 salire salient, resilient salience, resilience, resiliency
 sentire sentient sentience, sentence [irreg.]
 venire (in)convenient (in)convenience

These illustrations of the Latin present participle and its English derivatives have been drawn entirely from the verb vocabulary that you met in Chapter 9. In the table, the original Latin forms are not listed, because the English word in -ant or -ent exactly matches the base form of the Latin present participle. Notice that English derivatives of this type are sometimes used as nouns: agent usually means a person “doing”; president, a person “sitting before” (prae- + sedere). For the most part, however, the participial derivatives in -ant or –ent continue to be used as English adjectives, and their etymological and dictionary meanings are often surpisingly close. It is very helpful to know that abstinent means “holding away from,” and that incontinent means (“not holding together”). If you realize that afferent and efferent mean “bringing to” and “bringing from” (ad- and ex- + ferre, with assimilation), you won’t confuse those precise neurological terms. The etymological meaning of provident, “looking forward,” is exactly what that adjective means today; prudent is a doublet—a contraction that goes all the way back to classical Latin. What are the etymological meanings of distant, recurrent, and inconvenient?

  1. From the Latin noun circum-stant-ia (“a standing around”) came the adjective circum-stant-i-alis, source of the English word circumstantial.


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Greek and Latin Roots: Part I - Latin by Peter Smith (Estate) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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