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Word for the Wise July 19, 2006 Broadcast Topic: Succor

A friend who has done more than her share of lending aid to the needy asked about the word succor. We're not talking about the s-u-c-k-e-r sucker that might refer to a person easily cheated or deceived or to a mark for a con man. She was interested in the s-u-c-c-o-r that names "something that furnishes relief" or "aid; help." (来源:http://www.EnglishCN.com)

So where does this succor come from? Ultimately, from the Latin verb meaning "to run to the rescue, bring help," but its move into English was aided and abetted by the Old French spoken during the Middle Ages. The Old French derivative of the Latin succerrere was sucors; that was borrowed into English as sucurs.

How did the final "s" come to be dropped and the spelling changed? The spelling shift can be explained as a typical respelling to make the word resemble other words (plenty more words end in "or" than in "ur"). And the loss of the "s"? That came about because sucurs looks plural, while succor sans the "s" looks singular.

Need help tracking down a word story? We're happy to run to your rescue.

 
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