Definition of prescind
: to withdraw one's attention
: to detach for purposes of thought
prescind was our Word of the Day on 02/08/2012. Hear the podcast!
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Did You Know?
Prescind derives from the Latin verb praescindere, which means "to cut off in front." "Praescindere," in turn, was formed by combining "prae-" ("before") and "scindere" ("to cut" or "to split"). So it should come as no surprise that when "prescind" began being used during the 17th century, it referred to "cutting off" one's attention from a subject. An earlier (now archaic) sense was even clearer about the etymological origins of the word, with the meaning "to cut short, off, or away" or "to sever." Other descendants of "scindere" include "rescind" and the rare "scissile" ("capable of being cut").
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