July 5, 2017

Case File #017.07.05: REDOUBTABLE

No, redoubtable doesn't refer to something that can be doubted more than once. The word's principal meaning is “formidable or fearsome,” and it is sometimes also more broadly used to mean “worthy of great respect.” First appearing in the English lexicon circa 1380, redoubtable was derived from the Old French verb redouter, which meant “to dread or greatly fear,” and the adjective's original form was thus redoutable. The b wasn't added to the spelling until around the middle of the fifteenth century, and most experts agree that this change was the result of an early misconception that the adjective had direct etymological or loose semantic links to the word doubt.

©2017 Michael R. Gates

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