Does Access Always End in Excess?

Dorothy S. Bass


The point that accessibility and surplus resemble every single other is since of a loved ones resemblance they brought to English from Latin, their shared language of origin. They also arrived into English at the identical time, in the 14th century, a interval when the French applied by the ruling classes in England was contributing new words and phrases to English vocabulary, and the educated persons of the time typically also experienced a expertise of Latin that affected the early employs of these words and phrases.

This combination of influences is apparent in the oldest which means of access in English, a meaning that nowadays is considerably much more widespread in French: “an attack or onset of ailment or sickness.” This was one particular of the word’s meanings taken from the Latin word accessus: “onset (of fever or disease).”

Our a lot more common and extra basic meanings of access, even so, descend from the other meanings of accessus, meaning “to tactic.” This gave the Latin noun the meanings “approach,” “means of entry,” and “right of strategy.” Our contemporary word retains all of these meanings.

Just one can see the hyperlink involving the word’s earliest use, meaning “beginning,” or, figuratively, “opening,” and a literal opening—something that gives obtain. By Shakespeare’s time, this was by far the most popular use of the phrase, in phrases like “denied access” or “free accessibility.”
The use relating to connectivity to networks or the online, “freedom or capacity to get or make use of something,” dates to the late 1950s, as does the corresponding verb use (“access the internet”), which was to begin with regarded as laptop jargon but has turn into so prevalent given that the 1990s as to be unremarkable. At times languages make massive modifications that are rarely seen.

Excess will come from the Latin noun excessus which means “departure” or “projection.” To the neutral use of excess indicating “an sum much more than wanted,” one more was virtually quickly extra, giving the phrase a ethical element, a connotation that “an volume much more than needed” is a lousy thing.

Excess is most often encountered as a noun or adjective, but it also has a exceptional verb use, which means “to reduce the place of,” a use that is redolent of the impersonal bureaucratic company jargon that persons appear to be to like to despise.

The coincidence of the resemblance of spelling and seem of the words and phrases extra and obtain in some cases prospects to their confusion right now. But if they appear to intersect in usage—what would be termed an error by most editors and teachers—it turns out that, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, these words have been bewildered from the quite commencing, and at the pretty least a slight overlap in which means was current at the origin of the use of these phrases in English in the late 1300s.

If you hadn’t considered of that, you could just say that this posting offers access to an extra of details.

Abide by Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, on Twitter @PeterSokolowski.


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