Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-rest Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To stop someone or something, to interrupt the flow of something and hold it in check. 2. To put and hold in legal custody before trial. 3. Arrest attention: to catch or capture someone's attention.

Notes: Today's verb has active and passive personal nouns: arrester and arrestee, respectively. It must be completely Anglicized, for the most common adjective and noun are the present participle: arresting. Earlier we had two Latinate nouns, arrestance and arrestation, both of which are fast becoming obsolete. The same is true of the Latinate adjective arrestive.

In Play: It is most often used in its legal sense: "Phil Anders was arrested for indecent exposure this past weekend." It is quite often used in reference to the curtailment of normal development: "The psychiatrist assigned to Anders by the court told him he was a classic case of arrested puberty."

Word History: English borrowed this word from Old French arester "to stay, stop" (Modern French arrêter), from Vulgar Latin arrestare "to stop, restrain", also the source of Italian arrestare, and Portuguese and Spanish arrestar. The Latin word is composed of ad "(up) to, against" + restare "to stop". Restare was originally a derivation comprising re- "back, again, undo" + stare "to stand". Stare comes from the PIE root sta- "to stand." The PIE root is everywhere in the Indo-European languages: English stand, stay and stature to mention only three. The suffix -stan is another, as in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan. It comes from the Persian word for "country", i.e. the place where someone stays. (It's time to thank Joakim Larsson for recommending yet another arresting Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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