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defraud

Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 7:01 pm
by Archived Topic
M-W says:

Main Entry: deĀ·fraud
Pronunciation: di-'frod, dE-
Function: transitive verb

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French defrauder, from Latin defraudare, from de- + fraudare to cheat, from fraud-, fraus fraud

: to deprive of something by deception or fraud
synonym see CHEAT

and yet defines the prefix de- as meaning the opposite of the word that follows. Why doesn't defraud mean "to NOT cheat"? Is the prefix de- used to mean "to" rather than "opposite of"?

Can anyone help clear up how this prefix came to mean two things? Am I just misinterpreting de- as a prefix?

Thanks,
JF
Submitted by Jeff Freeman (Orlando, FL - U.S.A.)

defraud

Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 7:14 pm
by Archived Reply
Prefix de- used here in the sense of "thoroughly."
Totally 'frauded' coming out as defrauded.
De - is a Latin adjective and preposition. meaning "down from, off, concerning." Used as a prefix in English, as in defrost (1895), defuse (1943), decaffeination (1927), etc. Usually felt as meaning "down," but in Latin it could also be completive in intensive (cf. demerit), perhaps with a sense of "down to the bottom, totally." Also in de facto "in fact" (1602), which is usually contrasted with de jure "of right, according to law" (1611), both now used as adjectives in English.
Hope that answers your question Jeff.

Reply from Leighton Harris (Cambridge - England)