Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

Well, the addiction to all things Star Wars at our house has lead us to a study of the word <malevolence>. This is because the latest purchase of Clone Wars videos at our house is entitled "Rising Malevolence".  Thank you, George Lucas, for using interesting words in your titles...

Here is my reasoning for considering <malevolence> a loan word, and then rejecting it.  I thought the process I went through might interest some of you.  My reasoning may be flawed, so please let me know what I may have failed to consider.  I originally wrote this as an email directly to Melvyn, but I decided to share it here as well.



I wanted to do a matrix with the boys on <malevolence> because they are buying a Star Wars cartoon video called "Rising Malevolence".

However...I am thinking it is a direct loan word from French, since the O.Fr. word is spelled exactly the same.

From etymonline:

malevolence Look up malevolence at
late 15c., from O.Fr. malevolence, from L. malevolentia, from malevolentem (nom. malevolens) "malevolent," from male "badly" + volentem (nom. volens), prp. of velle "to wish" (see will (v.)).

But wait....  I have now checked an additional source, and the spelling is different by one letter for the French.  Hmm. Must be a typo in etymonline?

From SOED:

malevolence /0məˈlɛv(ə)l(ə)ns/ noun. LME.
[ORIGIN Old French malivolence, male- from Latin malevolentia, from malevolent-: see malevolent, -ence.]

Now checking the SOED for it seems that it seems that may be a direct loan word from Latin:

malevolent /0məˈlɛv(ə)l(ə)nt/ adjective & noun. E16.
[ORIGIN Old French malivolent or Latin malevolent-, from male ill, badly + volent- pres. ppl stem of velle will, wish: see -ent.]

And to research possible affixes, the entries on <-ence>,<-ent>, and

-ence /0(ə)ns/ suffix.
[ORIGIN French from Latin (i) -entia, from pres. ppl stems in -ent- -ent, (ii) -antia: see -ance.]

Forming nouns of quality (or instances of it), as congruence, impertinence, sapience, or of action, as reference, reminiscence. Since the 16th cent. many words ending in -ance from French have been altered back to -ence after Latin, and more recent words have taken -ance or -ence according to the Latin vowel (hence much inconsistency, as dependence or dependance, resistance, subsistence). Cf. -ency.

-ent /0(ə)nt/ suffix.
[ORIGIN French, or its source Latin -ent- pres. ppl stem of verbs of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th conjugations, or -ant- (see -ant¹).]

Forming adjectives denoting existence of action, as effluent, or state, as convenient, or nouns denoting an agent, as president, referent, superintendent, usu. from verbs. Conflicting English, French, & Latin analogies have produced much inconsistency of use of -ent and -ant.

mal- /0mal/ prefix. Also †male-.
[ORIGIN French mal adverb from Latin male ill, badly, or (occas.) Old French mal adjective from Latin malus bad.]

In senses ‘bad(ly), wrong(ly), improper(ly)’, as malformation, malodorous, malpractice, maltreat, and ‘not’, as maladroit, malcontent.

†male- prefix var. of mal-.

** the cross before indicates that it is an obsolete affix.  What exactly do they mean by that? That we no longer use it to form new words today? When exactly did "male-" become obsolete as an English prefix?  Who decides that it is obsolete?

My Conclusion:

I can find <malevolent> directly in Latin, but the noun form <malevolence> is not a direct loan, because in Latin it is <malevolentia> .  Since the affixes are all attested ModE affixes (with the caveat that <male-> is now obsolete) and since both noun and adjective are not directly from Latin, can I call them both ModE words and not loan words?

male + vole + ent ==== malevolent

male + vole + ence====malevolence

Related word sums:

bene + vole + ent====benevolent

bene + vole + ence====benevolence

vole + ent ====== volent

volent /0ˈvəʊlənt/ adjective. M17.
[ORIGIN Latin volent- pres. ppl stem of velle will, wish, desire: see -ent.]

Exercising or capable of exercising will or choice in one's conduct or course of action.

VOLE is therefore my bound base to which I ascribe the meaning "wish, desire"  The is necessary due to prevent the doubling of the when adding .  I didn't even know of this word, but I discovered it during my search for more words with the possible base.

Bottom line:  Even though <malevolent> is exactly the same in Latin, I am not identifying it as a loan word because it seems to behave in an "English manner" as far as spelling and affixes are concerned.  I hope this is correct, but I look forward to any and all critique and feedback.


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