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Feb 19, 2003
This week's theme
Words with interesting etymologies

This week's words
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with Anu Garg


Pronunciation RealAudio

indite (in-DYT) verb tr.

To write or to compose.

[From Middle English enditen, from Old French enditer, from Vulgar Latin indictare (to compose), from Latin indicere (to proclaim), from in- + dicere (to say).]

Google for the term "was indited" and a few hundred citations show up where the writer clearly meant to use the word "indict". While that usage is incorrect, etymologically speaking, those writers are not too far off the mark. When someone is indicted, he literally has charges written against him. The word "indict" is simply a spelling variant of "indite" that acquired a distinct sense over time. Other words that derive from the same Latin root dicere (to say) are: dictionary, dictum, ditto, ditty, benediction, contradict, valediction, predict, verdict, and their many cousins.

"The things he writes or I indite, we praise--
For poets, after all, are lonely men
Singing a bit to themselves, but more to each other--
Hoping that fellow there will recognize
A bit of himself in this pale groping brother."
Alfred Kreymborg; The Lost Sail: A Cape Cod Diary; Coward-McCann, Inc.; 1928.

"In 1844, Sir Charles Napier, governor of Sind, was writing from Kurrachee, as he spelled it, urging his officials to indite their papers in English, larded with as small a portion of to him unknown tongues as they conveniently can, instead of those he generally receives-namely Hindostanee larded with occasional words in English."
A Plain Man's Appeal For Finds; The Economist (London); Nov 29, 1997.


Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. -Dwight D. Eisenhower, US general and 34th president (1890-1969)

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