Saturday, September 10, 2011


The September 10, 2011, edition of the Wall Street Journal contained a verb that you don’t commonly see. It appeared in an article by Edward Kosner about books timed to appear during the 10th anniversary of 9/11 (A Decade After). Here is the sentence:

“Pureeing their own research with published sources, Mr. Summers and Ms. Swan confect a circumstantial case involving protection money paid by members of the huge [Saudi] royal family to keep bin Laden’s terrorism outside the kingdom’s borders, intercession by Saudi cultural agents—likely spies—to help two of the hijackers in California, and stonewalling by Saudi intelligence after the attack.”

The context makes it clear that confect is a synonym for piece together or assemble. It is the participial stem of the Latin conficĕre to put together, make up, prepare, or complete.

Shades of meaning listed in the Oxford English Dictionary include

  • To put together, mix, compound (ingredients).
  • To prepare or make up by the combination of various ingredients; to compound.
  • To prepare for use as a relish or delicacy; to make into a comfit or confection; to preserve, pickle.
  • To prepare (food) for digestion or assimilation; to digest.
  • To make (out of the materials).

Related words include confection, confectionary/confectionery, and confectioner.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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