Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Vic asked about the word fend, as in, “to fend off evil.” It is a shortened version of defend, which came from the Latin defendere, to ward off or protect. The de- element means “away from oneself.” Fend also shows up in the phrase, “to fend for yourself”—to provide for yourself, to stand on your own

The word offend is a first cousin, since it shares the –fend– root. It came from the Latin offendere, to wrong or injure. The of-/ob- segment signifies “in the direction of.”

An obsolete word is forfend. It means to avert or prevent. It often showed up in the prayerful, “Heaven forfend” or “God forfend.” The for- prefix implied looking to the future.

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