English Root Words Recap: Latin Roots Ced, Cess, Ceed

by Brett on October 30, 2011

In our ongoing educational etymology work on English word origins, this past week we learned that the root words ced, cess, and ceed all mean “go.”  So that these Latin root words do not recede into the dark depths of memory, let’s proceed by reviewing ced, cess, and ceed so that we will have success in remembering them.   Some of the words I’ll reinforce in this English vocabulary root words blog are precede, intercede, procedure, recede, cede, concede, excessive, recession, incessant, process, proceed, and exceed.

Ced → ‘Go’

sample words: precede, intercede, procedure, recede, cede, concede

Our English word origins learning last week included the Latin verb cedo, cedere, cessi, cessum: “go, move,” which gave the English language the root word ced: “go.”  When Joan Jett precedes the Rolling Stones in a rock concert, she “goes” before Mick Jagger and company as the opening act.  Mediation is an option in the legal world for people to solve their differences without going to court; the mediator intercedes, or acts as a “go-between” to help people efficiently and effectively resolve their issues.  For men, one of the pleasant “perquisites” of aging can be a receding hairline; when hair recedes, it “goes” back, which causes many horrified masculine entities to rush off to their nearby drugstore to buy Rogaine to try to make that hair go forwards once again.  Many are unsure what procedure, or “going” forth, they should opt for:  some just deal with it, others try a combover, still others try hair implants, and still others shave their heads.

The Latin root word ced can also mean “yield,” a much less prolific meaning than “go.”  However, two important words are “yielded” from this meaning.  When a king cedes land to an enemy, he “yields” it, most reluctantly.  When Presidential candidates are in a debate and one concedes a point to another, he thoroughly “yields” by giving in to it.

Cess + Ceed → ‘Go’

sample words: excessive, recession, process, proceed, exceed, unceasing, incessant

Our English word origins learning last week included not only the English root word ced, but also its variants, cess and ceed: “go.”  Latin root words, especially verbs, will often have variant spellings due to many factors, including their principal parts, French influence, ease of pronunciation, etc.  Economies often go bad for many different reasons, sending them into a recession, or a “going” back (cf. recede and recession) or slowing down, sending a country into an economic contraction.  Sometimes a recession can come about because of excessive spending, or a “going” outside of normal, prudent expenditure.  For instance, banks exceeded wise fiscal limitations when they loaned money for mortgages to just about anybody who was a member of homo sapiens; when those homeowners sapiens defaulted, it was hard to know how to proceed, or “go” forth.  Even now we are not sure of the process or “going” forth by which banks should lend large amounts of money … it is much harder these days to obtain a mortgage!

Another spelling variant of ced, cess, and ceed is ceas; its meaning, as cede and concede, can also mean “yield.”  When something ceases, it “yields,” or stops.  Unceasing work never “stops.”  Note also that cess can at times mean “yield,” such as in the word incessant, not “yielding.”

Questions of the week (to be answered next week):

See answers

  • Explain the orthography and etymology behind the English word deceased, and why it derives from ced: “go.”
  • What is a surcease of sorrow?

Questions from last week:

  • Q:  Does the adjective “sedulous” come from the root word sed?
  • A: No.  Although a very few etymologists claim that it does; this purportedly makes sense from its meaning, for when you “sit” on a project for a long time, you pursue it sedulously until it is finished.  Rather, the word “sedulous” derives from the Latin prefix se: “without” and the Greek noun dolos: “trickery;” when you work tenaciously or sedulously on a project, you work “without trickery,” that is, you do what you say you are going to do, and don’t try to get out of it by boondoggling or malingering.     

  • Q: Can you determine the number of morphemes (prefixes, + root/s + suffixes) in the words “inconsequential,” “preconception,” and “misapprehension”?
  • A:  “Inconsequential” has 5: in- + con- + sequ + -ent + -ial; “preconception” has 4: pre- + con-  + cept + -ion; “misapprehension” has 4: mis- + ap- + prehens + -ion.

For more on word roots, refer to our archives»

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