Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Delete and deleterious

The question came up in class: are delete and deleterious related? It seems possible, even plausible: what’s deleterious removes wellbeing, right? Wrong.

The Oxford English Dictionary traces delete to “Latin dēlēt-, participial stem of dēlēre to blot out, efface.” Deleterious goes back to “modern Latin dēlētērius, < Greek δηλητήριος [deleterios] noxious, hurtful, < δηλήτηρ [deletor] destroyer, < δηλεῖσθαι [deleisthai] to hurt.”

Well, if these words aren’t related, they should be.

[I’ve added the transliterations.]

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