Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Max from Cadillac asked whether deprecate and depreciate are simply variant spellings of the same word. The answer is no.

Originally, to deprecate was to pray against evil, whether to avert it altogether or to remove it. It comes from a Latin word that meant to request. Its opposite is imprecate, meaning to call evil upon someone. In our day, the word deprecate has been secularized and often is taken to mean to express disapproval, to disparage, to belittle. Some commentators see this as confusion with the next word, depreciate.

Depreciate means to lower in value. It comes from a Latin word meaning price. Its opposite is appreciate, to increase in value. The word precious is a first cousin. While most people use precious to mean dear or close to the heart, it originally meant a commodity that was valuable or pricey.

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

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