Peregrine over Torrey Pines

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blast Dictionary: Forwent

James Boswell - Sir Joshua Reynolds
I learned a new word today. Forwent. Not terribly sexy but I can understand that like all of the good lord's creatures, assuredly it has its own proper place and function. Bit old english sounding to my ear. Talking Points Memo had an interview with Jon Leibowitz at the FTC regarding what some viewed as a sweetheart settlement with Google.

“We went after a company [Google] where the law required us to do so, and forwent bringing a case where the law required us not to bring one.”

Odd word, unfamiliar, had to look it up. Not a lot to the definition, from Collins English Dictionary - Complete and unabridged 2003;

forwent [fɔːˈwɛnt]
vb
the past tense of forgo

Forgo, the present tense, has a bit more meat on the bone. From Random House Dictionary 2013:

for·go
[fawr-goh]
verb (used with object), for·went, for·gone, for·go·ing.
1.
to abstain or refrain from; do without.
2.
to give up, renounce, or resign.
3.
Archaic. to neglect or overlook.
4.
Archaic. to quit or leave.
5.
Obsolete . to go or pass by.
Also, forego.

Origin:
before 950; Middle English forgon, Old English forgān.  See for-, go1

Related forms
for·go·er, noun.
un·for·gone, adjective.

Synonyms
1. forbear, sacrifice, forsake.

Actually the word is still a bit of a conundrum to me in a logical sense. Difficult word to wrap my head around. In its archaic forms, to leave or quit, well the past tense is not much different then the present tense, isn't it, wasn't it? They both relate to a past event, to take leave of something. If we forego, or have foregone, is it really necessary to note that we have also forewent? Redundant. Or am I overanalyzing, should I just chalk it up as a vestigial synonym of foregone and be done with it?

Apparently the word is a bit archaic. I read that there are only four citations for it in the whole of the Oxford English Dictionary, the most recent being dated 1596. But hey, it may be on the heels of a comeback. Unless our choice of course, is/was to forwent.

This is my forwent conclusion.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been unable to sleep for days wondering about forewent. Thanks to Blue Heron for the patriotic and public service!

Ken Seals said...

Perfect! I hope we can get to the day when we can all say we forwent the use of the word FOLKS!
Ken