“Stance” and Its Relations

By Mark Nichol

A previous post listed words such as constitute that ultimately stem from the Latin verb stare, meaning “stand.” Here, stance (from the present participle of stare), and words in which stance is the root, as well as terms related to those words, are listed and defined.

A stance is a literal or figurative attitude or posture or a position in which a person stands to prepare to engage in athletic activity. (Stand is from Old English and is distantly related.) Constance (“standing with”), meaning “steadfastness,” is an obsolete term (and a rare female given name), as is its synonym constancy, but the adjectival form constant persists to mean “steadfast” as well as “invariable” or “uniform” as well as “regular.” The adverbial form is constantly, and the antonym is inconstant.

Circumstance (“standing around”) means “condition, detail, event, or fact associated with another,” or pertains to evidence that supports the likelihood of an event (as in the phrase “circumstantial evidence”); circumstances is a euphemism alluding to financial resources (for example, one said to be in straitened circumstances is poor).

Distance (“standing apart”) is the space between two points in space or time, or the quality of being spatially or emotionally remote or intellectually dispassionate; the adjectival form is distant, and distantly is the adverbial form. (Distantness is a rarely used noun referring to the quality of being distant.) One can also describe a far point or area as “the distance,” as in the phrase “looking out into the distance.”

An instance (“standing on”) is an example or an occasion; the word can also be a verb meaning “cite” or “demonstrate”; in legal terminology, it pertains to the pursuit of a lawsuit. Instant means “a very small point at time”; an additional, outdated sense is “the current month,” seen abbreviated in historical correspondence in phrases such as “in your letter of the 15th inst.,” meaning “the letter you sent on the 15th of this month.” As an adjective, instant means “current,” “immediate,” or “urgent” or refers to something ready-made or able to be prepared very quickly and/or very easily; instantly is the adverbial form. The adjective instantaneous means “occurring immediately,” and its adverbial form is instantaneously. The verb instantiate is a synonym for “embody” or “express.”

A substance (“standing under”) is any physical material, but substance also pertains to essence, meaning, and quality. Euphemistically, it refers to property or wealth, as in the phrase “a man of substance.” In reference to addictive or otherwise harmful substances, it is used in the phrases “controlled substance” and “substance abuse.” The adjective substantial has multiple senses, including “essential” or “true,” or “considerable” or “sturdy.” Substantial can also be a noun meaning “something of substance,” and the quality of being substantial is substantiality or substantialness, and the adverbial form is substantially.

Assistance is the act of assisting, or helping, a person or another entity. (Assist literally means “stand by.”) Desistance refers to desisting, or ceasing to assist; the noun is little used, but desist (“stop standing”), though rarely employed otherwise, is widely known from the legal phrase “cease and desist,” which pertains to a demand to stop infringing on a right, such as copyright. Resistance is the act of opposing or an opposing force or a source of opposition, the capacity to resist (“stand again”), or a behavior in which a patient opposes psychological therapy; capitalized, the noun has referred to various organizations that covertly oppose a force occupying a country or other geopolitical territory.


7 Responses to ““Stance” and Its Relations”

  • Dale A. Wood

    The given names “Constance” and “Constantine” mean about the same thing, and some women called “Connie” have “Constance” as their real names.
    Also, some “nicknames” have spun off into an “independent” existence, such as Connie, Abby, Beth, Fanny (“Frances”), Jenny, Kate, Penny (“Penelope”), and Sally.

  • D.A.W.

    Venqax, Anglo-Saxon-Jute was Anglo-Saxon-Jute when the Saxons lived in Old Saxony, and the Jutes lived in Jutland (on the mainland), and the people of Britain spoke old Celtic dialects and Latin.
    And so, these tongues are much older than Old English.

  • venqax

    Old English IS Anglo-Saxon.

  • D.A.W.

    There is a fascinating set of words, that barring capitalization, are exactly the same in German and English: {gold, ring, finger, hand, arm,…} Then there are the German words that are practically the same in sound, but the spelling is a little different: {Ellbogen, Knie, Nase, Ohr, Lippe, Fuss (foot), Haar, Schadel (skull)}.
    Our word “skull” actually came from the language of the Vikings: “skoal”.
    Then there are German adjectives and adverbs that are the same, e.g. “normal” and “orange”.
    D.A.W.

  • D.A.W.

    You may say that “stand” is from Old English, but exactly the same verb (in the past tense) is in Modern German, so I would say that “stand” came from Anglo-Saxon-Jute and other German dialects.
    There is a whole slew of German verbs, especially conjugated irregular verbs, that are exactly the same as in English. One nice example is “sang” and this is a verb whose three principle parts are {singen, sang, gesungen} = {sing, sang, sung}.
    In an old German fairy tale: “Rapunzel in ihr einsamkeit sang,” is practically obvious: “Rapunzel sang from her loneliness.”
    “Der Meistersanger von Nurnburg” is “The master singer of Nuremberg,” and that is the title of a famous play.
    Calling something “Old English” does not take us back far enough to the roots of the language. The real roots are in Anglo-Saxon-Jute.
    It is also true that these pronouns came from Danish:
    {they, them, their, theirs} – all of the third-person plural pronouns.

  • TheBluebird11

    Sorry for phone typo…MEANS, not meams. Oops.

  • TheBluebird11

    Nice discussion of the topic. I would only take issue with your use of the word substance as it pertains to, for example, property or wealth. I have never heard it used that way, and would be more likely to hear “a person of meams.” In the case of referring to “style versus substance,” substance has more of a connotation of being good or moral and having inherent worth, where style represents the opposite, being flashy and being superficial. In that case, somebody who has a lot of money but no ethics would be considered to have style but no substance. The substance is tied to their moral fiber and not to their money. I may not be explaining myself properly but I’m hoping you understand what I’m getting at.

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