Intrusive N in Messenger, Passenger etc.

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Nov 20 04:32:28 UTC 2008

At 2:35 PM -0700 11/19/08, Josh Macfelder wrote:
>A friend of mine asked me where the N in "messenger/passenger etc"
>came from, and I was only able to come up with "It's an intrusive N"
>but I have no other information about this feature. Except for maybe
>the fact that Merriam-Webster's traces it back to the Middle English

It's especially striking given that there isn't an earlier /n/ in
these words to yield progressive assimilation as with the intrusive
"pundint"s of John McCain, Sarah Palin, et al.


>Also, the Shorter OED that I'm using gives the following etymology:
>"Old & mod. French passager use as noun of adjective meaning
>'passing', formed as PASSAGE noun: see -ER2. For the intrusive n cf.
>harbinger, messenger, etc."
>Since it's just "compare with," any additional info would be appreciated.
>Thanks in advance.
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list