06 December 2004

deplane, v

Scottoway claims that "deplane" is not a verb meaning to get off a plane. I don't know what dictionary he's using but both the American Heritage and the venerable Oxford English dictionaries say that it is. The latter lists as the second definition of deplane:

a. intr. To leave an aeroplane (after arrival at one's destination).    b. trans. To remove from an aeroplane.

This isn't a newfangled interwang usage either; the O.E.D. cites references in 1923, 1933, 1948 and 1967, the earliest of which was in a time when planes were a rather new invention.

As to some of his other etymological musings, note that "refrigerate" comes from the Latin refrigare, to make cold. This derives obviously from frigidus, cold and the original meaning of re- which is not "again" but rather "back" (recede, reduce, refer). Thus refrigerate does not mean to cool again, but to cool back—a somewhat awkward construction in English, but one which makes sense if you look over the varied shades of the prefix as it was applied to Latin stems.

We must use care in attributing the creation of words which were inherited via the French from Latin to English speakers. While "to frigerate" is not a common English verb (O.E.D. cites usages in the 17th century) it is not to say that "refrigerate" has no meaningful root form. That root form existed in another language, Latin, in which the borrowed English formation also existed.

If you're going to be a pedant, at least get your facts straight.

No comments: