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15.20: Lesson Twenty

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More About cede, and cess

1. Although the bases cede appear in a number of words, it is not in the word supersede. The base in supersede is sede. Cede comes from a Latin word that meant “go, go back, give way”; sede comes from a Latin word that meant “sit.” Super- means “above,” so supersede means something like “to sit above, to be superior to.” Remember that the base sede in supersede starts with an <\mathrm{s}> just like sit.

The verb cede, as you've seen, has a noun partner, cession, which means “something that is surrendered or ceded formally to another.” And cession has a homophone, session. Session is related to the base sede and means, basically, “a sitting.” In fact, we still speak of a court sitting in session.

Sometimes it is hard to see the meaning that cede, ceed, and cess add to words, but often the tie-in with the original meaning of “go, go back, give way” is clear once you think about it: For instance, in the word recede the prefix re- means “back,” and if something recedes, it goes back. The prefix inter- means “between,” and if someone intercedes for someone else, he goes between that person and another; we even call people who intercede like that “go-betweens.” The prefix ex- means “out, beyond,” and if something exceeds the limits, it goes out beyond the limits.

Some other words have changed so much over the centuries that the tie between the modern meaning and the original meaning is less clear, though there is always a tie. For instance, succeed originally meant simply “to come after another, to take another's place.” It still has that meaning when we say things like “Bill Clinton succeeded George Bush as president of the United States.” But today's more common meaning of succeed and success— that is, the accomplishment of something desirable — developed gradually: At first succeed meant something like “to follow,” and so it, and success, came to refer to the results, good or bad, of a course of action. You could have good or bad success, meaning a desirable or undesirable result. In time the meaning narrowed to the good and desirable, which leads to our current use of succeed and success.

3. The verb proceed has another unusual thing about it: When we add the suffix -ure to it, to make a noun, the noun is not spelled ^*procedure, as we would expect it to be. Instead it is procedure. Think of it this way: We spell the noun procedure as if the verb proceed contained the base form cede rather than ceed.

You may find it easier to remember how to spell procedure if you remember that both proceed and procedure contain two <e>'s. In proceed the two <e>'s are side by side; in procedure they're spread out a bit.

Analyze the following words into prefixes, bases, and suffixes, showing any changes that occurred when the elements combined:

Word Analysis
proceed
proceedings
proceeded
procedure
procedures
procedural
procedurally
necessarily
preceding
recesses
cessions
sessions
superseding
abscess
antecedents
successively

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Feb 23, 2012

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Apr 29, 2014
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CK.ENG.ENG.TE.1.Basic-Speller.15.20

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