A reader asks:
Does the word “sucummbed” really exist? As in “he finally sucummbed to the cold and lay face down in the snow”…
What’s interesting about this question is not that succumbed is misspelled, but that this reader kept encountering this misspelling as he tried to find a definition.
Ordinarily when I type a misspelled word into the Google box, for example, “Tolkein,” I get the question “Did you mean: Tolkien?” at the top of the search page.
When I typed in “sucummbed,” the question “Did you mean succumbed?” did not appear. Numerous entries with the “sucummbed” spelling did.
Succumbed comes from a Latin word meaning “submit, sink down, lie under.” In modern usage it can mean to submit to a superior force:
The beautiful old tree-lined streets succumbed to the community’s desire for a shopping mall.
It can also mean to lose a fight against a disease or some other physical attack:
After ten months of painful chemotherapy she succumbed to cancer.
He succumbed to wounds received in Iraq.