or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Asked and Answered

Here's the opening paragraph from a Salon.com article on the ever-increasing illegitimacy of the Bush II regime:

Washington was treated to a curious American spectacle on Monday. A president repudiated by virtually every sector of the political system has responded by arrogating more power to himself.

And the first thing that popped into my head was, "Hmmm. Is 'arrogate' related to 'arrogant'?" And the second thing that popped into my head was, "Of course it is, you dimwit!"

"Arrogate" means "to take without right". "Arrogant" lies at one metaphorical remove: it means "having an unwarranted sense of self-worth", which is to say that you've taken qualities that you haven't earned--including the right to take whatever you want. They both derive from Latin "arrogare", which itself is a compound of "ad-", "towards", and "rogare", "to ask, to propose", which shows up in a number of English words such as "surrogate" ("proposed in the place of"), "rogation" ("supplication"), and "derogatory" ("detracting from", which is to say "proposing a move away from").

Verbs ending in "-ate" often form the adjective by replacing it with "-ant": "gesticulate"/"gesticulant", "insulate"/"insulant". Often the adjective will do double duty as a noun, as in "supplicate"/"supplicant", "celebrate"/"celebrant", or "fumigate"/"fumigant", which goes even further with the process, since the noun has supplanted the adjective, which has vanished from the language.


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