Saturday, July 03, 2010

Let’s Debate About Rebates

Frank asked about a possible connection between rebate and debate.

The –bate element in some few words comes from a violent French verb meaning to knock to the ground, to conquer, to beat back, to crush, or to demolish.

In most cases, the meaning softened over the centuries to something like reduce, counterbalance, deflect, or make less intense.

Rebate once meant to drive an enemy back. By the 15th century, it included the meaning to allow a sum of money as a deduction on the full price – in other words, a refund. Debate once referred to military encounters. Eventually, it meant to engage in disputation or argument.

Another word that uses the same word part is abate. It started with the common meaning to beat down. Then it passed through to do away with, to render null and void, to depress, to reduce in size or value, to lessen in force, and to calm.

SIDEBAR: rebates

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