Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Eng. -age ~ Sp. -aje, Part 16: English words in -age (a)

[This entry is an excerpt from Chapter 18, "Eng. language and Sp. lenguaje: words ending in Eng. -age and Sp. -aje", of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]


English words in -age

In this section we are going to take a look at English words that have the suffix ‑age, most of which do not come from Latin ‑ātĭcum words, but rather were derived in French or English from the suffix ‑age that came from the Latin suffix ‑ātĭcum, by analogy with existing Latin words, such as those we saw in the previous section (§18.3). There are around 400 words that end in ‑age in an English dictionary, though not all of them contain this suffix, as we shall see.

As we have already seen, not all English ‑age words have equivalent ‑aje words in Spanish, and vice versa. There are several reasons for this. Since many of these words come from French either Northern French dialects or southern ones—not all of these French words were borrowed by English and Spanish, and the borrowed ones were not always the same. Secondly, English and Spanish—but mostly English—created new words out of this borrowed suffix, words which did not make it to the other language. For instance, English created the word spillage out of the verb spill, and Spanish does not have a cognate of this word. These words also happen to be the most semantically transparent ones for an English speaker since they are derived from existing English words, such as spill in this case, whereas the words with the suffix ‑age that were borrowed from French are typically semantically opaque, e.g. garage. Spanish has also created a few words with this suffix, but these coinages are much fewer in number than the English ones.

English words that contain the suffix ‑age are typically stressed on the penultimate syllable, that is, on the syllable before the suffix, which means that the suffix is pronounced (unstressed) [ɪʤ], such as advantage [əd.ˈvæn.(t)ɪʤ], a French loan, and blockage [ˈblɒ.kɪʤ], an English coinage. However, words with this suffix that were borrowed from French in the last couple of centuries, such as massage, tend to have the stress on the final syllable, that is, on the suffix, just like they do in Modern French. In these words, the suffix is pronounced [ˈɑʒ], just like in French, or in a more Anglicized way, as [ˈɑʤ], if the words have become common enough, e.g. massage can be pronounced either [mə.ˈsɑʒ] or [mə.ˈsɑʤ]. (The French words end in [ˈɑʒ], with the alveopalatal fricative sound [ʒ] at the end, but this sound only occurs in the middle of a word in native English words and the closest sound that English has at the end of words is the alveopalatal affricate [ʤ].) Other such recent loans are the following:
  • menage [məˈnɑʒ] or [məˈnɑʤ],
  • mirage [məˈɹɑʒ]
  • barrage [bəˈɹɑʒ] or [bəˈɹɑʤ]
  • montage [mɑn.ˈtʰɑʒ] (also pronounced [ˈmɒn.tɑʒ] in Britain, with initial stress)

Spanish words in ‑aje, however, are always stressed on the penultimate syllable of this ending (which has two syllables, unlike the English cognate) and the ending is always pronounced [ˈa.xe]. This is also the case in the same recent borrowings from French such as masaje [ma.ˈsa.xe] and montaje [mon.ˈt̪a.xe].

The status of ‑age as a suffix of English is a somewhat peculiar one. It would seem that English speakers have to some extent recognized and treated ‑age as an actual suffix of the language, even though in most cases the suffix ‑age came attached to French words without a recognizable base, as in the case of garage (cf. §18.3 above). This English suffix is not very productive, as was to be expected, but it has been more productive than could have been expected since English has produced a number of new ‑age words by analogy, such as spillage from spill, leakage from leak, shrinkage from shrink, breakage from break, cleavage from cleave, postage from post, wreckage from wreck, and so on. As we said earlier, these words do not by and large have corresponding (cognate) words in ‑aje in Spanish.

Most of the words minted in English with the suffix ‑age are fairly recent creations, but there are some old ones, such as the word bondage, which is based on the Middle English native or patrimonial (Germanic) word bond ‘serf, tenant farmer’, which comes from Old English bonda where it just meant ‘householder, husband, head of a family’ (Eng. bondage = Sp. esclavitud, servidumbre). This English word was rendered into Anglo-Latin, that is, the Latin used in England in the Middle Ages in legal documents of England, as bondagium, for the reason we explained earlier, namely that Old French (and in this case Middle English) words with the suffix ‑age were Latinized with the suffix ‑agium in Medieval Latin times (cf. §18.2).

Because of what was just said, it should not surprise us that that some words that actually ended in ‑agium (and occasionally ‑agia) in Classical Latin end up with the ending ‑age in French, and therefore in English as well. Thus, for instance, Eng. suffrage comes from Medieval Latin suffragium ‘voting tablet, (cf. Sp. sufragio). Do note that ‑agium was not a suffix in Latin. The word suffragium contained a stem that happened to end in the letters ag (suffrag‑) plus the suffix ‑ĭ‑um which was used to form abstract nouns and sometimes nouns denoting offices and groups. Occasionally, the ending ‑age in an English word corresponds to the ending (not suffix) ‑agia in Latin. Thus, Eng. hemorrhage comes from Lat. haemorrhagia (cf. Sp. hemorragia), a loanword from Ancient Greek αἱμορραγία (haimorrhagía) ‘violent bleeding’.

Thus, there are English words that end in ‑age that never had a suffix ‑age that came from Lat. ‑ātĭcum. Some are words that in are related to Latin words that had the Latin suffix ‑agium or ‑agia, as we just saw. Others come from Latin words ending in ‑agin‑em, accusative form of ‑ag‑o, which was also not a real suffix. Yet other English words end up in these sounds and letters by mere chance. The most common English words that end in ‑age that did not contain the suffix ‑age in their etymology are the following:
  • adage (Sp. adagio): < Lat. ădăgĭum ‘proverb’ ?< ad ‘to’ + *ag‑ (old stem of aiĕre ‘to say’) + ‑ĭ‑um
  • average (Sp. n. promedio, media; adj. corriente): formed in English, of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately from the French avarie or Italian avaria ‘damage to ship’, which probably comes from Arabic عَوَارِيَّة (ʿawāriyya) ‘damaged goods’ (cf. Sp. avería ‘breakdown’)
  • cabbage (Sp. repollo, col) < Mid.Eng. caboge < Old Fr. caboce, dimin. of Lat. caput ‘head’
  • cartilage (Sp. cartílago): < Lat. cartilaginem, accusative form of Lat. cartilago
  • carnage (Sp. carnicería, matanza): < Mid. Fr. carnage < Old Italian carnaggio ‘slaughter, murder’ < Lat. carnaticum ‘slaughter of animals’
  • hemorrhage (Sp. hemorragia): < (earlier) hemorrhagy < Lat. haemorrhagia (Pliny) < Gk. αἱμορραγία (haimorrhagía) ‘a violent bleeding’
  • image (Sp. imagen): < Lat. imāgĭnem, accusative of imāgō ‘an imitation, copy, image, representation, likeness’
  • mortgage (Sp. hipoteca): < O.Fr. morgage (or mort gage or gage mort) ‘dead pledge’ < post-classical Latin mortuum vadium ‘dead pledge’[1]
  • sausage [ˈsɒsɪʤ], [ˈsɔsɪʤ], or [ˈsɑsɪʤ] (Sp. salchicha): < Old Fr. saussiche < Vulgar Latin *salsīcia ‘sausage’, neuter plural of salsīcius ‘prepared by salting’ < salsus ‘salted’ < sāl ‘salt’ (acc. salem)
  • scrimmage (Sp. escaramuza, refriega): a variant of skirmish with ‘suffix substitution’ (OED)
  • suffrage (Sp. sufragio): Old Fr. sofrage ‘plea, intercession’ < Medieval Latin suffragium < Latin suffrāgium ‘right to vote, etc.’
  • vintage (cf. Sp. vendimia) ‘the year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced’ (COED): < Anglo-Norman vindage/vendage < Old French vendange < Lat. vĭndēmia (by suffix substitution?)
Strictly speaking and from an etymological perspective, these words cannot be said to contain the suffix ‑age, since their ‑age ending does not come from Latin ‑ātĭcum or its descendants. However, nothing stops native speakers of English, who by and large do not know anything about etymology, from making a connection among all the words that end in ‑age somehow.

Some English words end in a stressed age, pronounced [ˈeɪ̯ʤ], such as engage and enrage, which never contained the suffix ‑age either. Eng. engage comes from  the Old French verb engagier ‘to pledge, etc.’, which comes from the same noun gage ‘pledge’ we saw is found in the word mortgage. The verb enrage comes from Old French enragier ‘go wild, etc.’ and it is derived from the noun rage or raige ‘rabies, rage’ that comes from Medieval Latin rabia, from Latin rabies ‘madness, rage, fury’ (cf. Sp. rabia ‘rabies; rage, fury, anger’.

The verb manage [ˈmæ.nɪʤ] does not have final stress, but it does not contain the suffix ‑age either. This verb as well as its Spanish cognate manejar ‘to handle’ both seem to come from Italian maneggiare ‘to handle’, originally used in equestrian vocabulary (first attested c. 1300 for English and c. 1600 for Spanish). (The root of this Italian verb contains the root man‑ that means ‘hand’ (cf. Sp. mano ‘hand’.) For some words ending in age, their origin is lost in time, such as the words garbage and rampage, whose origins are disputed (the noun rampage comes from the verb rampage, but the verb’s origin is uncertain).

Some English words that end in age are verbs that were derived from a noun with the suffix ‑age. One example is the word discourage, which is related to the noun courage (Eng. discourage = Sp. desanimar, desalentar, disuadir, etc.). Actually, Eng. discourage is a loanword from Old French descoragier, which is derived from the noun corage, source of Eng. courage. Analogous is the case of the noun disparage, which comes from Old French desparagier (Modern French déparager), which is derived from the French noun parage ‘rank, lineage’, which was borrowed into English too but is quite rare today, which is derived from the noun par ‘equal’, which is a cognate of Eng. pair and peer and of Sp. par. Another such verb is Eng. envisage (Sp. imaginarse, concebir; prever), which comes from French envisager, which is derived from Fr. visage ‘face’. (The noun visage has been borrowed into English, but it is quite rare.)

Below we are going to see a fairly exhaustive list of the most common English words that when created contained the suffix ‑age, either in English or in French, or which descend from a word with the suffix ‑ātĭcum in the Latin language. In that list we do not include extremely rare words, some of which may be archaic or obsolete, such as the following ones:
  • agiotage: ‘the business of dealing in foreign exchange’ (RHWU)
  • alienage: ‘The official status of an alien’ (AHD)
  • decoupage: ‘the decoration of the surface of an object with paper cut-outs’ (COED)
  • equipage: archaic ‘the equipment for a particular purpose’; historical ‘a carriage and horses with attendants’ (OAD)
  • meltage: ‘the amount melted or the result of melting’ (RHWU)
  • primage: ‘a small allowance formerly paid by a shipper to the master and crew of a vessel for the loading and care of the goods’ (RHWU)

Also not included on the long list below are fairly rare and fancy words that probably only very learned speakers would recognize, such as the following:
  • décolletage: ‘the neckline or top of a dress cut low so as to bare the neck and shoulders’ (WNWC)
  • maquillage: ‘cosmetic or theatrical makeup’ (AHD)
  • parentage: ‘someone’s parents and the country and social class they are from’ (DOCE)
  • pupilage: ‘the state or period of being a pupil’ (AHD)
  • reportage: ‘the reporting of news by the press and the broadcasting media’ (COED)
  • tillage: ‘cultivation of land’; ‘land that has been tilled’ (AHD)
  • tutorage: ‘the function or work of a tutor’ (MWC); and
  • visage: ‘literary a person's face, with reference to the form of the features’ (COED)
The following are the words that most speakers of English would recognize, though some are more common than others. The Spanish cognate is provided when there is one and its most common Spanish equivalent is given otherwise. (Where it says + ‑age in the description, it means the word was created in English out of the base word. Where the source is French, this source is given and sometimes the ultimate source of the base word is given as well.)
  • triage: Sp. selección de prioridades; < O.Fr. triage < trier ‘to pick, cull’
  • tutelage: Sp. tutela; < Lat. tūtēla ‘watching, keeping, guardianship’ + ‑age
  • acreage: Sp. superficie en acres; < acre + ‑age
  • advantage: Sp. ventaja; < O. Fr. avantage ‘advantage, profit, superiority’, < avant ‘before’
  • amperage: Sp. amperaje; < ampere +‑age
  • anchorage: Sp. anclaje (charge or fastening); < anchor + ‑age
  • appendage: Sp. apéndice, añadidura; < append + ‑age
  • arbitrage: Sp. arbitraje; < O.Fr. arbitrage ‘arbitration, judgement’ < arbitrer ‘to judge’
  • baggage: Sp. equipaje, bagaje; O. Fr. bagage ‘property packed up for carriage’ < baguer ‘to tie up, bind’
  • bandage: Sp. venda, vendaje; < Mid. Fr. bandage < O.Fr. bander ‘to bind’ < bande ‘a strip’
  • beverage: Sp. brebaje ‘potion’ (Sp. bebida) < O.Fr. bevrage < O.Fr. boivre ‘to drink’ (cf. Sp. beber)
  • blockage: Sp. obstrucción, atasco, (med) oclusión; < block + ‑age
  • breakage: Sp. rotura; < break + ‑age
  • bricolage: ~ Sp. bricolaje; < bricolage ‘do-it-yourself’ < bricoler ‘do odd jobs, repair’
  • brokerage: cf. Sp. corretaje, correduría; < broker + ‑age
  • camouflage: ~ Sp. camuflaje; < Fr. camouflage < camoufler ‘to disguise, hide’ (cf. Sp. camuflar)
  • carriage: ~ Sp. carruaje (< Cat. carruatge < O.Cat. carriatge): Old N. Fr. cariage < carier ‘to carry (in a cart, etc.)’ < Latin carrus ‘four-wheeled baggage wagon’ (cf. Sp. carro ‘cart’)
  • cleavage: Sp. escote; division; < cleave + ‑age
  • coinage: Sp. monedas (etc.): < Old Fr. coignage < coignier < Old Fr. coin < Lat. cuneus (~ Sp. cuña ‘wedge, groove’)
  • collage: ~ Sp. collage [ko.ˈlaʃ], colaje: < coller ‘to stick, glue’ < Gk. κόλλα (kólla) ‘glue’ (cf. Sp. cola ‘glue’; cf. Eng. collate)
  • cottage: Sp. casa de campo: < O.Fr. cote ‘hut’ + ‑age
  • courage: ~ Sp. coraje: < O.Fr. corage (Mod.Fr. courage) < V.Lat. *coraticum (see above)
  • coverage: Sp. cobertura: < cover + ‑age
  • damage: Sp. daño, perjuicio: < O.Fr. damage ‘loss caused by injury’ (Mod.Fr. dommage) < dam ‘dammage’ < Lat. damnum ‘loss, hurt, damage’ (cf. Sp. daño)
  • disadvantage: ~ Sp. desventaja: < O.Fr. desavantage < des‑ (=dis‑) + avantage (cf. Eng. advantage)
  • dosage ‘the amount of a medicine or drug that you should take at one time, especially regularly’ (DOCE): Sp. dosis; posología: dose + ‑age (= Fr. dosage)
  • drainage: ~ Sp. drenaje (< Eng.), desagüe; < drain + ‑age (= Fr. drainage < Eng.)
  • espionage ‘spying’: ~ Sp. espionaje: < Fr. espionnage < espionner ‘to spy’ < espion ‘spy’
  • foliage: ~ Sp. follaje: < O.Fr. feuillage (earlier fueillage, foillage ) < feuille ‘leaf’
  • (film) footage: cf. Sp. filmación, metraje; < foot + ‑age
  • (square) footage: Sp. area en pies cuadrados; < foot + ‑age
  • forage: ~ Sp. forraje; O.Fr. forrage < feurre ‘fodder, straw’ < Frankish *fōdar
  • fuselage: ~ Sp. fuselaje; < Fre. fuselage < fuselé ‘spindle-shaped’ < O.Fr. *fus ‘spindle’ (cf. Sp. huso) < Lat. fusus ‘spindle’
  • garage: ~ Sp. garaje: < Fr. garage ‘shelter’ < garer ‘to shelter’ < Frankish *waron ‘to guard’
  • heritage: Sp. herencia, patrimonio; < O.Fr. heritage < heriter ‘inherit’
  • homage: Sp. homenaje; < O.Fr. homage (Modern French hommage) < homme ‘man’ < Lat. hominem (accusative of homo; cf. Sp. hombre)
  • hostage: Sp. rehén; < O.Fr. hostage < V.Lat. *obstāticum < *obsidāticum < Lat. obses, obsidem ‘hostage’
  • language: Sp. lenguaje; < O.Fr. language ??< V.Lat. *linguāticum
  • leakage: Sp. escape, fuga; < leak + ‑age
  • leverage: Sp. acción de palanca, etc.; < lever + ‑age
  • lineage: Sp. linaje; < O.Fr. lignage ‘descent, etc.’ < ligne ‘line’ < Lat. linea ‘string, line’
  • linkage: Sp. conexión, enlace, etc.; < link + ‑age
  • luggage: Sp. equipaje; < lug + ‑age
  • marriage (= Sp. matrimonio, etc.): ~ Sp. maridaje ‘close cooperation; obsolete married life’; < O.Fr. mariage ‘marriage; dowry’ < V Lat. *maritaticum
  • massage: Sp. masaje; < French massage ‘friction of kneading’ < masser ‘to massage’
  • ménage ‘a group of people living together in the same house ‘ (CALD): Sp. cohabitantes, convivientes, etc.; cf. Sp. menaje (false friend): < French ménage ‘couple, household’ < O.Fr. manage ‘household, family dwelling’ < V.Lat. *mansionaticum ‘household’, from Lat. mansĭōnem (nominative: mansĭo) ‘a staying, remaining, stay, continuance’ and, derived from it, ‘a place of abode, a dwelling, habitation’, from the stem māns‑ of the passive participle mānsum of the verb manēre ‘to stay, remain; spend the night; etc’; cf. Eng. mansion ~ Sp. mansion; Sp. (artículos de) menaje ‘household goods’, in particular menaje de cocina ‘kitchenware’; (in a department store) sección de menaje del hogar ‘household department’; In English, the French phrase ménage à trois ‘threesome sexual relationship’ (lit. ‘household of three’) has become quite well known
  • message: Sp. mensaje; < O.Fr. message ‘message, communication, news’ < Med. Lat. missaticum < Lat. missus, p.p. of mittĕre ‘to send’
  • mileage: Sp. kilómetros, kilometraje; < mile + ‑age
  • mirage [məˈɹɑʒ]: Sp. espejismo; < Fr. mirer ‘to be reflected’
  • miscarriage: Sp. aborto (espontáneo): < miscarry + ‑age
  • montage [ˌmɒn.ˈtɑʒ]: Sp. montaje: <  Fr. montage ‘assembling; ascending’ < O.Fr. monter ‘to go up, mount; to assemble’
  • orphanage: Sp. orfanato; < orphan + ‑age
  • outage: Sp. apagón, corte de luz; < out + ‑age
  • outrage [ˈaʊ̯t.ˌɹ̯ʤ] (pronunciation influenced by unrelated rage): Sp. ultraje; < O.Fr. ultrage, oltrage, outrage ‘transgression (in word or deed)’ < ultre, outre ‘beyond’
  • package: Sp. paquete; < (v.) pack + ‑age
  • passage: Sp. pasaje; < O.Fr. passage ‘way through; mountain pass; action of passing; part of a text; ferry-toll; crossing, ford, ferry, expedition overseas; etc.’ < post-classical Latin passaticum (and passa(t)gium) < passāre ‘to pass’ / < passus ‘pace’
  • patronage: Sp. patrocinio, etc.; < Middle French patronage ‘patron’s protection of a client’ < patron ‘patron, protector’+ ‑age (cf. post-classical Latin patronagium; cf. Sp. patronazgo)
  • percentage: Sp. porcentaje: < per cent + ‑age
  • pilgrimage: Sp. peregrinaje: < O.Fr. pelerinage < pelerin ‘pilgrim’ + ‑age (cf. Sp. peregrino)
  • pillage: Sp. pillaje, saqueo: Mid.Fr. pillage ‘booty; action of sacking’ < piller ‘to manhandle, seize by violence, etc.’ + ‑age < V.Lat. piliare ‘to plunder, etc.’, probably from compīlāre or (less common pīlāre) ‘to plunder, pillage, rob’, from pĭlus ‘hair’ (cf. It. pigliare, Sp. pillar; cf. post-classical Lat. pilagium ‘robbery, plundering’)
  • plumage: Sp. plumaje: < O.Fr. plumage < plume ‘feather’ + ‑age
  • postage: Sp. franqueo: < (n.) post + ‑age
  • ravage: Sp. saqueo, estragos, etc.: < Fr. ravage ‘damage caused by violent action’ < ravir ‘to abduct [a person]; to steal [goods]’ (< Lat. răpĕre ‘snatch, grab, carry off, abduct’)
  • roughage: Sp. fibra: < (adj.) rough + ‑age
  • rummage: Sp. búsqueda desordenada, etc.: < Middle French arrumage ‘arranging or rearranging of cargo in the hold of a ship’ < arrumer < Middle Dutch rūmen, ruymen (cf. post-classical Latin roumagium); more common is the derived verb to rummage (Sp. revolver buscando, hurgar, rebuscar, buscar desordenadamente)
  • sabotage: Sp. sabotaje: < Fr. saboter ‘to make a noise with sabots, walk noisily; to bungle something’ < sabot ‘wooden shoe’
  • sewage: Sp. aguas residuales/negras; < sew(er) + ‑age (actually, there was much earlier a verb sew in English that meant ‘to drain, draw off water’, now dialectal, but this verb was apparently not in use when the word sewage was concocted
  • sewerage (‘the provision of drainage by sewers’, COED): Sp. alcantarillado, cloacas; < sewer + ‑age (in the US sewerage has been used as a synonym of sewage too)
  • shortage: Sp. falta, escasez, carestía, insuficiencia; < short + ‑age
  • shrinkage: Sp. encogimiento; < shrink + ‑age
  • slippage: Sp. caída, corrimiento, etc.; < slip + ‑age
  • spillage: Sp. derrame; < spill + ‑age
  • spoilage: Sp. estropeo; consentimiento; etc.; < spoil + ‑age
  • stage: Sp. etapa, fase; escenario, escena, tablado; etc.; < Old Fr. estage < V.Lat. staticum < stare ‘to stand’ (cf. Sp. estar)
  • stoppage: Sp. paro, suspensión, huelga, etc.; < stop + ‑age
  • storage: Sp. almacenaje, almacenamiento; almacén, depósito; < (v.) store + ‑age
  • tonnage (‘the size or carrying capacity of a ship measured in tons’, 1 ton = 2,000 pounds or 0.907 metric tons, COED): Sp. tonelaje (< tonelada ‘metric ton’; < ton + ‑age
  • umbrage (‘resentment, offense, annoyance’, obs. ‘shade, shadow’, cf. umbrella): Sp. resentimiento; < O.Fr. ombrage, umbrage ‘shade, shadow’ < Lat. umbraticum < umbra ‘shade, shadow’ (cf. Sp. sombra)
  • undercarriage: Sp. chasis; tren de aterrizaje; < under + carriage (see above)
  • usage: Sp. uso; costumbre, usanza; < O.Fr. usage ‘custom, tradition, use, employment (of something), conduct, manner; etc.’ (OED) < Lat. usus ‘use, custom, habit, skill’ < p.p. of ūtī ‘to use’
  • vantage: Sp. punto de vista; < O.Fr. avantage (cf. advantage above)
  • vassalage: Sp. vasallaje; < O.Fr. vassal(l)age < vassal (Sp. vasallo; Celtic word, earlier vassus) (cf. medieval Latin vassallagium)
  • verbiage: Sp. verbosidad, palabrería, verborrea; < Fr. verbiage (1671) < verbier ‘to sing-song’ (obs.)
  • village: Sp. pueblo, aldea; < O.Fr. vilage ‘group of houses and other buildings (usually smaller than a town)’ < Latin vīllāticum ‘farmstead’ < villa ‘country house’
  • ·      voltage: Sp. voltaje, tensión; < volt + ‑age
  • voyage: Sp. viaje; < O.Fr. voiage ‘travel, journey, etc.’ < Late Lat. viaticum ‘a journey’ < Lat. viaticum ‘provisions or money for a journey’ (cf. §18.5 below)
  • wreckage: Sp. restos del naufragio/accidente; < wreck + ‑age
  • yardage: Sp. medida en yardas; < yard + ‑age

[1] The Old French expression mortgage was translated into Medieval Latin as mortuum vadium and mor(t)gagium. The term is attested in Old French in the 13th century and in English in the 14th. The gage ‘pledge’ part comes from Frankish and is cognate with Eng. wage, a word borrowed into English from a different dialect of Old French. In medieval times, a mortgage was a loan that ended (‘died’) when it was repaid or the mortgagor’s land repossessed. The AHD still gives as the first definition of mortgage something very similar to that: ‘A temporary, conditional pledge of property to a creditor as security for performance of an obligation or repayment of a debt’. Most other dictionaries give a definition of this word much more in accordance with how a normal person understands the term: ‘a legal arrangement by which you borrow money from a bank or similar organization in order to buy a house, and pay back the money over a period of years’ (DOCE). English also developed a verb to mortgage in the late 15th century out of the noun. The verb’s main meaning is ‘to give someone a legal claim on (property that you own) in exchange for money that you will pay back over a period of years’ (MWALD). The verb is also used figuratively with the meaning ‘expose to future risk or constraint for the sake of immediate advantage’ (OAD).

By the way, the word mortgage does not exist in Modern French. The meaning ‘mortgage’ is expressed as prêt (immobilier), lit. ‘real estate loan’ (Sp. préstamo inmobiliario), prêt hypothécaire (Sp. préstamo hipotecario), emprunt logement, lit. ‘housing borrowing’, or hypothèque. This latter term is the most common Spanish equivalent, hipoteca. The term comes from Latin hypotheca ‘a pledge, security, mortgage’, from Ancient Greek ποθήκη (hupothḗkē) ‘warning; pledge, mortgage’, derived from the verb ποτιθέναι(hupotithenai) that meant ‘to give as a pledge’ (and ‘to suppose, speculate’; literally ‘to put under’, from πό ‘down’ + τιθέναι ‘to put, place’), which is also the source of the cognate nouns Eng. hypothesis ~ Sp. hipótesis. English has also borrowed the word hypothec, which is used in civil law and in Scots law. It was borrowed from French in the early 16th century. French borrowed the term in the 13th century from Latin.

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