successor = 'predecessor'

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 17 19:02:31 UTC 2007

On Dec 17, 2007 8:27 AM, Charles Doyle <cdoyle at> wrote:

> [...]

> Unlike the "ancestor"/"descendant" pair, however, "successor" and
> "predecessor" do have the same root word--a circumstance that might
> contribute to their confusability.

Maybe, but I think superficial resemblance is a more likely contributor than
actual etymology. The relation between "successor" and "predecessor" is not
that evident to the casual observer, compared to a pair like "subscript" and
"superscript". The surface analysis (I mean here literally
'breaking-apart'), SUC + CESSOR vs PREDE + CESSOR, produces nothing
familiar. To get back to the common root "ced-" 'go' you have to hunt back
through several stages of Latin derivation, according to the OED's

m a m

The American Dialect Society -

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