The Descendants of “Sedere”

By Mark Nichol

Sit and its past-tense form sat, as well as set, settle, and seat, are cognates from Old English of the Latin verb sedere, meaning “sit.” The more or less disguised direct descendants of that term are listed and briefly defined in this post.

Words derived from a Latin verb stemming from sedere and meaning “sit beside” (originally pertaining to an official who assists a judge) include the verb assess, which means “estimate property value for taxation purposes” (the noun form is assessment); the adjective assiduous, meaning “showing great care”; and the noun assize, meaning “court session.” The noun and verb size, meaning “physical extent” and “arrange by size” respectively, among other things, is derived from assize.

To sedate is to calm or settle, the adjective sedate means “calm or settled,” the adjective sedative denotes “tending to calm or settle,” and a sedative is something that calms or settles, especially a drug. Sedan, originally the word for a chair attached to poles so it can be carried, was later applied to an enclosed automobile. Sedentary means “settled,” “physically inactive,” or “permanently attached.” (Sessile is a synonym for the latter sense, or means “directly attached to the base.”) Sederunt, taken directly from Latin, refers to an extended seated discussion. Sediment denotes material that settles to the bottom of a body of liquid, such as sedimentary rock; sedimentation is the process of formation of this type of rock.

Session, meaning “a meeting or series of meetings,” or “a period of instruction,” and séance, the word for a session at which communication with the spirit world is attempted, refer to sitting, while dissident, describing someone who disagrees with or opposes the status quo, literally means “one who sits apart.”

Reside means “dwell” or “live,” and preside means “govern” (literally, “sit before”); the noun forms are resident and president, and the adjectival forms are residential and presidential. Subside (literally, “sit down”) means “settle,” “sink,” “decrease,” or “descend,” and the act or condition of subsiding is subsidence. A subsidy, meanwhile, is a money grant; the literal meaning of the word, “sit near,” suggests the support a grant provides.

Obsess originally meant “besiege” but now refers to unrelenting attention to someone or something; the adjectival form is obsessive, and an instance of obsessing is an obsession. Siege itself means “a military blockade” and, by extension, “a serious or sustained attack.” Insidious, stemming from the idea of sitting in ambush, means “deceitful.”

Possess means “have and hold,” and the adjectival and noun forms are possessive and possession. To supersede is to replace or set aside; surcease, a descendant of supersede’s Latin forebear by way of Old French, means “cease” as a verb and, as a noun, refers to an act of desisting.

To beset is to harass or surround, or to ornament by setting or studding something with smaller objects, such as jewels in a crown. Similarly, to inset is to insert something into something else so that it can be seen, and an inset is something so treated, or a channel or the act of flowing in. Cosset, meaning “caress” or “pamper,” may come from an Old English word that means “cottage dweller” (in the sense of one who raises animals as pets).

See, the word for the location or authority of a high-ranking clergyman (distinct from see as it pertains to vision), is from a Latin word related to sedere that pertains to a seat.

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3 Responses to “The Descendants of “Sedere””

  • D.A.W.

    The southern coasts of West Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi were settled by Frenchmen and Frenchwomen directly from France.
    Long ago, there was an intrepid French sea captain who set about to look at the southeastern part of the New World. He and his ship sailed through the Straits of Florida without ever seeing either Florida, Cuba, or the Keys (astonishing!). He entered the (unnamed) Gulf of Mexico and then he veered north, but he never saw the west coast of Florida.
    By the time that he saw dry land, he and his crew made it all the way to the area of Pensacola! He explored the area and then he returned home, but before too many years, French settlers went back in ships. This is why that part of the American coast has names like Mobile, Mobile Bay, the Mobile River, Dauphin Island, Bayou La Batrie, Pascagoula, and Biloxi.
    In contrast, the west coast of Florida, and extending out into the panhandle, has Anglo, Scottish, and American Indian names like these: Tampa, St. Petersburg, Apalachicola, Bradenton, Cape Coral, Clearwater, Dunedin, Fort Myers, Ft. Walton Beach, Homosassa Springs, Lakeland, Marianna, Naples, Panama City, Port Richey, Sarasota, Venice.
    “Dunedin” is the name of a town in Scotland, and there is also a city named Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand. It is either the largest, or the second-largest city on the South Island, maybe following Christchurch.
    Not too far from Dunedin, Scotland, is the town of Albany, and now we have Albany, New York; Albany, Georgia; and the seaport of Albany on the south coast of Western Australia.

  • D.A.W.

    It is also interesting that a movement of French people came into the United States from the north and from the south. We can see that from the French names that they gave to various places:
    Vermont, Lake Champlain, Detroit, Lake St. Claire, the St. Claire River, Lake Superior, Wisconsin, Eau Clare, Sault Ste. Marie, Illinois, the Illinois River, the Des Plaines River, the Des Moines River, St. Louis, Louisville, Louisiana, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Mobile. I am unsure about the word “Michigan”, because that might have come from the American Indian name for “Lake Michigan”, but via the French to English.
    I am pretty sure that the names of Lake Huron, Lake Erie, the Ottawa River, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, and the Ohio River came from the American Indians. I am not sure about Lake Ontario or the Niagara River. It is very well known that “Mississippi” comes from the Indian word meaning “Father of all the Waters”.

  • D.A.W.

    I am assuming that a “seder” does not have anything to do with “sedere”. There word “seder” probably comes from Hebrew instead of Latin, and “seder” refers to the Book of Exodus and the Israelites’ escaping from slavery in Egypt to freedom in Palestine.
    (The Land of Canaan).
    Also, Hebrew is a Semitic language rather than an Indo-European one, so that makes it unlikely that “seder” came from Latin or Greek.
    On the other hand, the Jews in Europe lived under the domination of the Gentiles for many centuries, so there could have been some exchange of vocabularies between the Roman Catholics and the Jews.
    By the way, this year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that was started by Martin Luther of Württemberg, in northmost Germany. It is interesting how fast the Reformation spread to Bavaria, Switzerland, and Austria – as well as to Scandinavia, which was close to the Hamburg – Württemberg region.
    Note that the movements of Calvinism, Anabaptism, the Mennonites, and the Amish began in the south, and especially in Switzerland.
    From western Switzerland, the Reformation spread into France, but the French Huguenots were (in general) persecuted greatly by the Roman Catholics. This probably lead to many of them to emigrate to Quebec, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia, and then either voluntarily or involuntarily (via the force of the British Crown) to Louisiana.

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