withdraw
Posted: 11 January 2011 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]
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With- means with, right?

So what’s the logic of “withdraw”?

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Posted: 12 January 2011 12:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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My guess is that ‘with-‘ means ‘back’ here. It could be from this word (from EWN):

Os. wiđar (mnd. wed(d)er); ohg. widar (nhg. wieder (adv.), wider (adj.); ofri. wither (nfri. wer(-), wjer-); oe. wiðer; on. viðr (nsw. veder-.); got. wiþra; < pgm. *wiþra-.

This would make it related to Dutch ‘weder-‘ (counter, back).

I have no resource confirming this. Anybody else?

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Posted: 12 January 2011 01:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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cf withers, “the high part of the back of a horse”, widdershins, “contrary to the direction of a clock”, withhold

Good thinking, Dutchtoo.

[ Edited: 12 January 2011 01:14 AM by lionello ]
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Posted: 12 January 2011 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It’s from the archaic sense of the preposition with meaning “on condition that, if, with the intention that” and the verb draw, meaning to move toward oneself. So it adds an element of agency and intentionality to the movement. The original senses of withdraw, both dating from the early thirteenth century, are “to take back something that had been given” as well as “retrograde movement, to remove something from its position.”

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Posted: 12 January 2011 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Interesting. Thanks.

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Posted: 12 January 2011 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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As with (with)drawing room? when men left ladies for port and cigars and male conversation?

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Posted: 12 January 2011 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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As with (with)drawing room? when men left ladies for port and cigars and male conversation?

Just the opposite! The cloth was removed from the dinner table and the men stayed seated, circulating the port decanter on the polished mahogany; it was the ladies who withdrew from the dining room and headed off to the (with)drawing room. Where, incidentally, they were provided not merely with refreshing tea but a table of assorted “cordials” - flavoured liqueurs such as cherry brandy, thought to be good for the heart (hence the name) and therefore notionally medicinal.

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Posted: 12 January 2011 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Not long ago we had an interesting thread on the quaint ritual surrounding passing the port

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Posted: 12 January 2011 02:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Dave Wilton - 12 January 2011 04:19 AM

It’s from the archaic sense of the preposition with meaning “on condition that, if, with the intention that” and the verb draw, meaning to move toward oneself. So it adds an element of agency and intentionality to the movement. The original senses of withdraw, both dating from the early thirteenth century, are “to take back something that had been given” as well as “retrograde movement, to remove something from its position.”

I don’t think so.  The sense of “with” in withdraw is its “original” sense of opposition ("apart" or “against"), reflecting its derivation from the Indo-European root wi- meaning “apart” or “asunder” which is also the basis of the various words identified by Dutchtoo (German wider, Dutch weder, etc.).  Thus to withdraw is to “draw apart” (or “away” or “back"), while to withhold is to “hold apart”. 

From the notion of “being apart or distant” rose that of “against” (as in German wider) found in withstand, literally “to stand against”.  The imported word widdershins ("in a contrary or counterclockwise direction") is literally “against direction”; the OED prefers the form withershins.

See the OED entries (free access this month, as pointed out in the blog) for with- (prefix) and with (preposition), as well as that for the obsolete prefix wither- found in lots of Old English compounds like wither-crist ("against Christ”, i.e., “Antichrist").

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Posted: 12 January 2011 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’m just passing on what the OED says. Look up withdraw, v. and for the etymology it refers you to with, prep. sense 6.

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Posted: 12 January 2011 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Dave Wilton - 12 January 2011 03:18 PM

I’m just passing on what the OED says. Look up withdraw, v. and for the etymology it refers you to with, prep. sense 6.

There does seem to be a bit of a contradiction in the OED.  Under the entry for with- (prefix) it has the following:

(1) away, back, as in Old English wiþbláwan to blow away, wiþfaran to escape, wiþgán to disappear,wiþtéon to withdraw; so WITHDRAW n., WITHHOLD v.; a few modern words come under this heading, which are formed by substituting with- for re-, as withcall;

(While it is making reference to withdraw (noun), the etymology is the same for the verb.)

Also, in the OED reference for withdraw (verb), when I move my cursor over the etymology part, a cross reference jumps out of the page which says ”with . . . in a position opposite to; over against . . .”, which doesn’t seem to be consistent with its referring to with, prep. sense 6.

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Posted: 13 January 2011 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Thanks, Syntinen. I must stay in more!

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