• assentation •
æ-sen-tay-shên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: Inclination to obsequiously agree with anything, ready assent, servile agreement, conformity of opinion.
Notes: Assentation is obviously the action noun for assent but with an unusual twist: it means "to willingly assent to everything" (see Word History for why). It comes with a personal noun, assentator, and an adjective, assentatory. The adjective assentatious was added later by a British writer.
In Play: Assentation refers to an inclination to servilely assent to everything: "Gloria's pre-feminist days were marked by the assentation of a respectable housewife." It can also inhabit herd mentality: "Assentation plays a larger role than it should in political elections."
Word History: Today's Good Word and its family were borrowed from Latin assentation(n) "flattering assent, flattery, adulation", the action noun of assentare "to flatter, agree servilely". This word is the frequentative of assentire "to agree, assent", originally meaning "to assent many times, frequently". French trimmed assentire down to assentir "to agree", which English borrowed and shortened even further to assent. Latin assentire was created from ad "(up) to" + sentire "to feel, sense, think", the D assimilating to the initial S in sentire. Latin built sentire out of PIE sent- "to take a direction, to feel", which underlies a host of Latinate borrowings, including sense, sentiment, sentence and resent. (Now, a thundering roar of e-applause for Mary Kaye, who thought today's Good Word just might be topical.)
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