Sistere & its Progeny
The Latin word sistere means to cause to stand. More to the point, sistere has a pile of intriguing descendants. I’m saving my favorite for last.
Resist showed up in English in the 1300s. Resist is constructed of re-, meaning against + sistere. It means to hold out against.
Desist appeared in English in the 1400s & is constructed of de-, meaning off + sistere. Desist means to stand aside, leave off, or cease. I love the idea that its third meaning suggests that the phrase “cease & desist” is redundant.
Assist also came to English in the 1400s. Constructed of ad- meaning to + sistere, assist means to stand by, help or assist.
Consist came to English in the 1520s, meaning to stand or place together. Its parts are con-, meaning with or together + sistere.
Persist is made of per-, meaning thoroughly + sistere. Persist arrived in English in the 1530s. Persist means to continue steadfastly.
Insist, to persist or dwell upon, came into English in the 1580s. It’s constructed of in-, meaning upon, + sistere
Some less likely descendants of sistere include:
exist & existence
subsist & subsistence
And what was my motivation to focus on sistere & its progeny? I’m overly fond of one of sistere’s little-known descendants, resistentialism. Paul Jennings coined the word in 1948. Resistentialism is the seemingly spiteful behavior manifested in inanimate objects. I celebrated Veterans’ Day trimming a hillside of overgrown junipers, struggling with the resistentialism manifested by a pair of loppers.
Dear readers, what recent experience have you had with resistentialism?