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Mar 6, 2017
This week’s theme
Back-formations

This week’s words
bludge
politick
allocute
adolesce
foray

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Makers make and bakers bake, but mothers don’t moth and fathers don’t fath.* That’s because the verbs “to bake” and “to make” gave birth to their noun forms, but the nouns mother and father have been with us for a long time, much before anyone thought of making or baking anything.

If we did coin the verbs “to moth” or “to fath”, they would be examples of back-formations. A back-formation is a word formed under the assumption that it must be the parent of an existing word. For example, the verb “to burgle” appears to have given birth to its noun, but it’s the other way: burglar came first. Similarly, we coined the verb “to typewrite” after the noun “typewriter”.

This week we’ll see five verbs that are back-formations, coined after nouns.

* We haven’t made the verbs “to moth” and “to fath” from the nouns, but we have turned them into different verbs: “to mother” and “to father”.

bludge

PRONUNCIATION:
(bluhj)

MEANING:
verb intr.: To shirk responsibility.
verb tr.: To obtain something through the generosity of others; to scrounge.
noun: An easy task.

ETYMOLOGY:
Back-formation from bludger (pimp), from bludgeoner, from bludgeon, of uncertain origin. Earliest documented use: 1919.

USAGE:
“My former flatmate also bludged some tickets from me but did make a lovely lasagne in return.”
Simon Taylor; Huge Support A Welcome Surprise; The Times (London, UK); Oct 23, 2003.

See more usage examples of bludge in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me-- and there was no one left to speak for me. -Martin Niemoller, pastor, initial supporter of Hitler, concentration camp survivor (1892 - 6 Mar 1984)

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