September 10, 2014

Case File #014.09.10: ARDENT

If you have an ardent interest in some item or another, it means you are burning with enthusiasm or ablaze with passion for the thing in question. It should come as no surprise, then, that the adjective ardent has a fiery family tree. Indeed, its earliest ancestor is the Latin verb ardere, which meant “to burn.” From the verb came the Latin adjective ardentem, meaning “burning or ablaze,” and this eventually passed into Old French as ardant. English speakers borrowed the Old French (sometimes spelling it ardaunt) circa 1335, but in the early fifteenth century, the English word's form changed to the now familiar ardent and, the occasional poetic throwback notwithstanding, its meaning shifted from “burning” to the current and more figurative “enthusiastic, fervent, or passionate.”

©2014 Michael R. Gates

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