-ency/-ancy vs. -ence/-ance

Jim Parish jparish at SIUE.EDU
Thu Oct 6 01:40:01 UTC 2005

sagehen wrote:
> I remember how startling I found it to hear "emergent" for the first time,
> back in the late 50s, as referring to the underlying crisis of an
> emergency. It was not meant as "developing," but as  qualifying the
> situation for "emergency" status. This seems in the intervening years to
> have become standard jargon in hospitals & related services.

The word is quite old in that sense, or a closely related one; cf. John
Donne's _Devotions upon Emergent Occasions_ (the source of, among
other things, the famous passage about "ask not for whom the bell

Jim Parish

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