Printable Version
Pronunciation: kên-kahkt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To create or put together haphazardly, randomly by combining various materials or ingredients, as 'to concoct a love potion'. 2. To make up, to cook up, dream up, fabricate, contrive, as 'to concoct a lame excuse'.

Notes: Concocter, rather than concoctor, seems to be the preferred spelling of the personal noun from this verb. The active adjective is concoctive and concoctible, the passive. The result noun is concoction "something concocted".

In Play: Concoct means "create" but in an off-handed way: "Marigold is great at concocting all sorts of dishes from leftovers." It can also refer to creating in a mildly deceptive way: "She always concocts a clever story to accompany her concoctions about how she concocted it from exotic ingredients."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from concoctus "cooked together", the past participle of concoquere "to cook together", comprising con- "(together) with" + coquere [kokwere] "to cook". Believe it or not, this word was inherited from PIE pekw- "to cook, ripen", i.e. "convert to something edible". How did [p] become [k]? By p-kw assimilation in Proto-Italic, just as PIE penkwe- "five" became quinque in Latin. The PIE word became peptein "to cook, ripen" in Greek, peč' "to bake" in Russian, pjek "I bake" in Albanian, and kepti "to bake" in Lithuanian, where the [p] and [kw] metathesized. We can't derive English bake from the same PIE word because [p] became [f] in Germanic languages, not [b]. (Let's not concoct a spurious show of gratitude but offer a genuine one to Rob Towart, who has suggested yet another in a long, long series of seriously Good Words.)

Dr. Goodword,

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