Sunday, November 06, 2011

. . . And Counting

Carlos asked about the relationship among the words recount, account, and discount. In all cases, the concept of enumerating or calculating is involved.

  • Account represents a reckoning, and money is usually involved. Eventually, it evolved into a statement explaining one’s actions, whether or not money was involved—in effect, any report or a narrative.
  • Recount can be a synonym for account: a narrative; or, as a verb, to enumerate what happened. Recount can also mean to count for a second time. Some commentators would like to see that meaning spelled as re-count.
  • Discount is a reduction from an amount already determined.

Basically, the –count segment is rather transparent: to enumerate, to calculate, to describe point by point. The word part came into English through the French, but the grandparent was Latin.

A county was the domain of a count, but neither word involved enumeration. Instead, they came from French/Latin words meaning an escort or retinue, since that’s one of the ways they served their monarch.

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

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