Monday, May 24, 2004

The Etymology of 'Abort'

Shootin' from the hip, I claimed that 'abort' derives from a contraction of 'ab' and 'port.' I asked Michael Gilleland, the laudator temporis acti, if this was right. Here is what he said:

Sorry I overlooked the ab-port derivation, which is incorrect. Abort is from the Latin verb aborior, aboriri, abortus sum = pass away, disappear, be lost;miscarry, be aborted; set (sun/planet/star). Aborior is a compound of ab (from) + orior (arise). So really the "ort" in abort is related to English words like orient, not to the derivatives of porto. Orient is from "sol oriens" = rising sun, as occident is from "sol occidens" = falling or setting sun.