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SAXON. motherly brotherly hide teach
LATIN. maternal fraternal conceal instruct
It will generally be found that the Saxon expression is the better understood, and therefore the stronger. Saxon words belong to the mother element of the English tongue; they name the things known to our ancestors; they denote the qualities, acts, states, and relations of these things. Thus they are our household words, and are better understood by all, even by the educated; for this reason, it is a good general rule to prefer Saxon terms to Latin. They will not always serve as well as words of Latin origin, but in most cases they will serve much better. Prefer them where you would express yourself with great simplicity, directness, and force.
Accuracy in the use of words can not be acquired in a few easy lessons. But get into the habit of thinking about the words you employ, and this habit will gradually bring about correctness in the use of language.
The following examples, adapted from Smith's Synonyms Discriminated, will illustrate the different shades of meaning between words nearly synonymous:
Allow [Fr. or Lat.]; Admit [Lat.).—These terms are here compared only in regard to matters of speculation and argument. Allow is negative, while Admit is positive. I admit what I can not deny. I allow what in fairness ought to be granted. Logical necessity compels me to admit. Argumentative honesty requires that I should allow. Admit denotes what is due to the case ; Allow, what is due to him who argues, as a claim.
Allow-Permit (Lat.).—To Permit is used in a passive, while Allow has a more active, sense. If I allow him, I give him at least some degree of sanction, however small; if I permit, I only do not prevent him. But in matters not of the will of individuals only, but of formal or public sanction, Permit is a stronger term than Allow. In this connection the case is reversed. If the law permit me to do something, it sanctions my doing it. Allow supposes the thing allowed to be good; Permit, that it may be good or bad.
ANIMAL (Lat.]; BRUTE (Lat. brutus, irrational]; BEAST [Lat. bestia]. — Animal comprehends every creature endowed with that life which is superior to the merely vegetable life of plants, and therefore includes man. It is sometimes, however, made to express distinctively other animals than man.
In that case we have to suppose a further distinction drawn between the rational and irrational animal life. Brute and Beast stand related each in its own way to
Brute is the animal regarded in reference to the absence of that intelligence which man possesses; Beast, (except where the word is used in the sense of cattle) in reference to that savage nature of which man is or ought to be devoid. The indolent, senseless, and violent brute; the cruel, savage, vile, or filthy beast. Hence, while the term animal is applicable to insects, neither brute nor beast is so, being insusceptible of moral comparison with man. plying the terms figuratively to the character and disposition of men, Animal denotes one who follows the instincts and propensities of his lower nature to the neglect of moral restraints and intellectual sympathies; Beast, one who grovels in sensuality; Brute, one whose nature seems deadened to finer feeling
Ask [A. S.]; REQUEST [Lat.]; BEG [O. E. or A. S.]; BESEECH [O. E.]; SUPPLICATE (Lat.]; ENTREAT [O. Fr.]; IMPLORE [Lat.]. —To Ask is to seek to obtain by words. But the character of the words may vary from the humblest entreaty to a demand. Its further sense of obtaining information by words of inquiry is not here considered. It is the simplest and broadest term for making a request. implies no particular sort of relationship, as of superiority or inferiority between parties. The master asks the servant, and the servant asks the master to do a thing. It is the ordinary form for expressing ordinary requirements.
Request is a more polite word for the same thing. Nevertheless, it is sometimes used with an implied sense of authority, amounting virtually to a command. Request is not a strong term, carrying with it neither urgency of want nor vehemency of words.
To Beg is more earnest; and, except when used in a kind of irony, is the act of an equal or an inferior, as request may be of an equal or a superior. To beg is not a term of marked character. We may beg boldly or timidly, but in any case some degree of dependence is involved. The term is a useful one when the speaker wishes to combine impressiveness of entreaty with deference or respect. Neither ask, request, nor beg is so strong as Beseech.
To Beseech and to Entreat are much the same, but beseech belongs more to feeling; entreat, to argument.
We entreat an equal by what he knows, feels, or understands; we beseech a superior by his goodness or his greatness. There is a condescension when we entreat an inferior, as a father may entreat a son to be more diligent for his own sake. This is to urge on grounds of affection and argument combined. .
To Supplicate and to Implore both imply extreme distress
and earnestness; but we may implore equals, we supplicate only superiors; for supplication denotes abject humility, as in a slave, or an offender, supplicating for pardon. We commonly beseech on the ground of personal influence, as in the phrase, “I beseech you for my sake.” In imploring we strive to move the feelings, as of pity, sympathy, or compassion.
BURIAL [A. S.]; INTERMENT (Fr. Interrement—Lat. in, and terra, the earth]. Burial is simply the covering of one thing over with others, so as to conceal it from view; as, to bury one's face in one's hands. As used in the above connection, the burial of a body is the laying of it sufficiently deep in the earth to conceal it from view. We can even speak of a burial at sea.
So characteristic is the idea of concealment in the term Bury, that in a secondary sense it is employed in reference to many things of which circumstances combine to prevent the exhibition. A man fitted to adorn society or to be eminently useful to it, is often buried in some remote and obscure locality, beyond which his name is not heard.
Interment is a more dignified and polite word than burial, but by its etymology more restricted in meaning, and denoting any formal and ceremonial or decent placing of the body under ground. We might say, “Buried like a dog," but we should be more likely to say, “Reverently and even sumptuously interred.” Interment involves the idea of earth or soil, not so burial. It is remarkable how the word Inter has in English literature been confined to the burial of the dead.
CalumNY [Lat.]; DEFAMATION [Lat.]; SLANDER [O. Fr.]; LIBEL (Lat.).—Calumny is that evil speaking which is based in any degree on what the speaker knows to be false, whether
it be a crime or an offence. The calumniator is both a forger and a propagator of evil report against another, and aims at doing him an injury.
For calumny will sear
Virtue itself. Shakespeare. Defamation is essentially public; it is the spreading far and wide of what is injurious to the reputation of persons.
Slander differs from defamation in being not only public, but also secret and underhanded. The slanderer is not so inventive as the calumniator.
Libel is a written slander of defamation. Originally a libel was a document. So the phrase of the present version of the Scriptures, “A writing of divorcement," stood in Wycliffe's version, “A libel of forsaking.” It is now any kind of published defamation, whether in print, by pictures, or any other such representation.
DEFEND [Lat.]; PROTECT [Lat.]. — Defend implies an active repelling of some adverse influence or power.
Protect implies a passive placing of something between the object and the power. A fortress is defended by its guns, and protected by its walls. A defence is successful or unsuccessful.
A protection is adequate or inadequate. In some cases of a somewhat metaphorical character we use the words interchangeably. So we say, to defend or protect plants from frost: but in the one case we look upon the power we have to resist; in the other, upon the object we have to guard.
One defends what is attacked, one protects what is weak. Defence, therefore, supposes an actual and pressing danger, protection only that feebleness which exposes to it. Both defend and protect may be applied to ourselves. We defend ourselves by meeting force with counter-force. We