melt / meltdown

The noun meltdown is a rather recent coinage, a product of our nuclear age, but the phrasal verb, to melt down, is significantly older. And the base verb to melt, as one might expect, is even older still.

The modern verb to melt is actually the result of the melding of two distinct Old English verbs. One is the intransitive and strong verb meltan, and the second is a transitive and weak verb with the forms miltan, myltan, mieltan, and meltan. The two became conflated in Old English, leaving us with the one modern form.

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