apocope

noun
apoc·​o·​pe | \ ə-ˈpä-kə-(ˌ)pē How to pronounce apocope (audio) \

Definition of apocope

: the loss of one or more sounds or letters at the end of a word (as in sing from Old English singan)

First Known Use of apocope

circa 1550, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for apocope

borrowed from Late Latin apocopē, borrowed from Greek apocopḗ, literally, "a cutting off," noun derivative from the base of apokóptein "to cut off, chop off," from apo- apo- + kóptein "to strike, knock, hew, fell with a weapon," perhaps going back to dialectal Indo-European *kop- "strike, fell," whence also Lithuanian kapiù, kàpti "to hew, fell," kapóti "to hew, chop," Russian kopát' "to dig"

Note: The base *kop- has been associated with a number of words in other Indo-European branches with varying vowels and sometimes with initial s (as Latin cāpō, cāpus "castrated male chicken, capon," Greek skáptein "to dig, cultivate by digging," Old Church Slavic skopiti "to castrate," skopĭcĭ "eunuch"). These forms cannot be accounted for by regular ablaut variation, and if they actually descend from a common ancestor and are not at least partially sound-symbolic, the ancestor is more likely a European substratal word (or words) rather than a true Indo-European base.

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The first known use of apocope was circa 1550

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Cite this Entry

“Apocope.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apocope. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on apocope

Nglish: Translation of apocope for Spanish Speakers

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