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April 01, 2013

Word of the Day

  • provenience
  • audio pronunciation
  • \pruh-VEE-nee-unss\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: origin, source
  • EXAMPLES

The museum has hired outside experts to help uncover the provenience and ownership history of several of its artifacts.

"The mask's provenience is unclear; the dealer suggested that it originated from a cave in southern Quintana Roo, Mexico.…" — From an article by Jack Frazier and Reiko Ishihara-Brito in Antiquity, September 1, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?

Did you suspect that "provenience" and "provenance" originate from the same source? You're right; they're parent and child. "Provenance" is the older of the two. It has been used to mean "origin" in English since at least the 1780s, and it is modeled on the French verb "provenir," meaning "to come forth, originate." The French word, in turn, derives from Latin "provenire," a composite of "pro-" (meaning "forth") and "venire" (meaning "come"). "Provenience" is a chip off the old block, originating as a modification of "provenance" about 100 years after its parent debuted in English texts. The source of the extra syllable in "provenience" is most likely "proveniens," a participle of "provenire" (the similar Latin participle "conveniens" gave us "convenience," another "venire" derivative).

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of the noun "abandon," our Word of the Day from March 3? The answer is …

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