Wednesday, November 16, 2011


My wife asked about a possible connection between words that end in –vention. The fact is, many of them are connected because they are based on the Latin motion verb, venire, (past participle ventus), which means to come. The –ion suffix simply turns a verb into a noun. It’s the prefixes that make the big difference.

  • Circum- means around, so to circumvene is to find a way around something.
  • Contra- means against, so to contravene is to come in conflict with something.
  • Con- means with, so to convene is to come together.
  • Inter- means between, so intervene means to come between actions or events.
  • In- means in or inside, so to invent means to come into a situation with a new idea.

There are some obsolete or rare words that share the same root.

  • advention: an extrinsic addition.
  • obvention: an incoming fee or revenue, especially one of an occasional or incidental character.
  • postvention: counselling and other social care given after the experience of a traumatic event, especially to those directly affected by a suicide.
  • subvention: a grant from government or some other authority in support of an enterprise of public importance.

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

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