• abeyance •
ê-bay-êns • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: 1. Temporary suspension, inactivity, delay, hold-up, lapse. 2. (Legal) A temporary lapse in the succession of ownership without owner or claimant.
Notes: Remember the [ay] sound in this word is spelled EY. It is the noun for abeyant "dormant, in a state of suspension", which is from the verb abey "to suspend, halt temporarily".
In Play: This word occurs most often with the preposition in, but not always: "After a long abeyance, Hornung began receiving correspondence again from Guinevere." The legal sense of this word is associated with the absence of ownership: "When the old duke died, the duchy passed into abeyance until a distant cousin popped up."
Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from Anglo-French abeiance "suspension", from Old French abeance "aspiration, expectation", the noun from abeer "to desire, covet, gape". Abeer is made up of à "at" + bayer "to open", descended from Late Latin batare "to yawn, gape with astonishment". À originated as Latin ad "(up) to, at", from PIE ad "to, by, at", source also of English at, Welsh at "to", and Irish do "to, for". We don't know how batare crept into Latin. Its French grandchild bayer is related to bay, as a gaping hole in the coastline. The etymological trail ends here.
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