||[Jan. 4th, 2010|02:54 pm]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases
present, n., adj., & v. [noun and adjective: prez-uhnt, prěz-ənt; verb: pri-zent, prĭ-zěnt]
-After the lovely gift-giving season, what better word is there to look at than present? But what about the verb present 'to give, to show,' the noun present 'the here and now, this moment,' and the adjective present 'happening here and now, immediate?' They all started out as Latin præesse 'be before (something), be at hand,' a compound word formed from the prefix præe 'before' and the root esse 'to be.' From this point, the etymologies branch a bit. For the noun present 'a gift,' the original Latin præsse created præsens 'being there,' which created the phrase in re præsenti 'in the situation in question.' Out of this was developed Late Latin impræsenti 'face to face,' which became Old French en present 'to offer,' with present meaning 'in or into the presence of.' Around 1200 CE or so, Middle English borrowed present to describe something given as a gift. The verb present 'to bring into the presence of, to show' came shortly after (probably before 1300) as Middle English presenten 'to give or offer, to introduce or exhibit,' and was linked to Old French in the same way as the previously mentioned noun form. The adjective present 'being at hand, existing at this time,' was borrowed into Middle English around 1303 from Old French present as well as a learned borrowing directly from the Latin source. The second noun form present 'this point in time' was the latest of the four forms to appear, appearing a bit before 1500.