Chapter 14: Compound Words in Latin
§93. Compounds Related to FACERE
Of all the verbs used to form Latin compounds, none has been more fruitful than facere, which appears in English in such forms as pacific (< pac-i-fic-us), pacify (< pac-i-fic-are), and pacification (< pac-i-fic-at-io). Here the first base is pax, pacis (“peace”), so that pacific means “peace-making.” The 1st conjugation verb pacificare is a regular denominative from the adjective pacificus; the English spelling -fy is a legacy of the French -fier. English hasn’t many adjectives in -ific: terrific (< terror, “fright”), horrific (< horror, “shudder”), honorific (< honor, “honour”), beatific (< beatus, “blessed”), soporific (< sopor, “sleep”), prolific (< proles, “offspring”), and scientific (< scientia, “knowledge”). We could easily produce a longer list of words in -fy, most of which have corresponding abstract nouns in -fication. In the following sample, notice that the compound may begin with a noun or an adjective; notice also the CONNECTING VOWEL.
|LATIN NOUN or ADJ.||fic- COMPOUND||E DERIV.||ABSTRACT NOUN||E DERIV.|
|os, ossis (“bone”)||oss-i-fic-are||ossify||oss-i-fic-at-io||ossification
Our list would include magnify, rectify, justify, stultify, ratify, nullify, modify, petrify, calcify, and personify. The last word has a comic-opera doublet. On capturing the maiden daughters of Major-General Stanley, W.S. Gilbert’s Pirates of Penzance sing out in glee:
You shall quickly be parsonified,
By a doctor of divinity
Who is located in this vicinity.
From Latin significare (E signify) is derived the present participle significant.
Several unusual English -fy verbs come from Latin compounds in -facere, –factus. Thus satisfy (L satis-facere, “to make enough”), satisfaction (L satis-fact-io); putrefy (L putre-facere, “to make rotten”), putrefaction; and liquefy (L lique-facere, “to make liquid”), liquefaction. The present participle liquefacient joins others of its type in §82: rubefacient (“making red”), tumefacient (“making swollen”), and abortifacient (“producing abortion”)—a modern medical coinage.
Before fleeing the fertile field of facere, we must tip our caps to some Latin compound nouns: sacr-i-fic-ium (E sacrifice), art-i-fic-ium (E artifice), and or-i-fic-ium (E orifice), “a mouth-making.” We can also salute bene-fact-or and its antonym male-fact-or, along with art-i-fact and manufacture (L manū-fact-ura, “making by hand”). English has two related nouns benefit (< bene-fact-um) and benefice (< bene-fic-ium); the second is the source of beneficial (< bene-fic-i-alis)—cf. sacrificial and artificial.