Confronting and Affronting

By Maeve Maddox

The verbs confront and affront both derive from Latin frontem, “forehead.”

Confront combines frontem with Latin com, “together.” To confront someone is literally to go “forehead to forehead with.” The English verb came into the language in the 1560s from French confronter and originally meant “to stand in front of,”

The word confront usually implies a sense of boldness or hostility. A defendant confronts his accuser. A dishonest employee is confronted with proof of guilt. A courageous explorer confronts the elements.

The noun for confront is confrontation.

Gaza aid flotilla to set sail for confrontation with Israel

As Confrontation Deepens, Iran’s Path Is Unclear

Thai military seeks to avoid confrontation with protesters

Confrontation is one of the hardest aspects of being a leader.

Affront combines frontem with Latin ad, “against.” The English verb affront came into the language in the early 14th century, from Old French afronter, “to face.” Late Latin affrontare meant “to strike on the forehead.”

To affront someone is to treat the person with indignity. To be affronted is to feel shame or humiliation. Examples: Politicians often go out of their way to affront their opponents. The six year old was affronted when his mother forced him to put on a bib.

The noun for affront is affront.

Police raid at JMU is an affront to the First Amendment

An affront to British justice: How the dice were loaded against Gary McKinnon

The MTA’s big bollards are an affront to Brooklyn

New Arizona immigration law an affront to decency

WB’s reality shows an affront to female viewers

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