Re: APOLAUSIS (the etymology of)

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Apr 23 1998 - 16:55:08 EDT

At 3:31 PM -0500 4/23/98, Andrew C. Livengood, Sr. wrote:
>Greetings all.
>I've been banging my head, trying to establish a strict trans. for the
>compound mentioned in "Subject" above.
>The prefix certainly isn't a problem. However, I've been unsuccessful in
>locating an instance where the root (LAUW) is used (outside of the NT,
>where only the compound is found -1Ti 6.17; Heb 11.25). I.e., in every
>instance I've located containing the root, _only_ a comp. is used.
>Also, can the (the fortunate) one(s) who locates(-s) the root suggest
>how the separate parts of the compound come together to form the trans.
>"enjoyment"? I would hate to have to settle on the common trans. just
>because. (But hey, if I gotta, I gotta).

Do you mean you haven't been convinced by those who tell you that etymology
is irrelevant to understanding the meaning of the word as conveyed in
actual usage at any particular time?

As the uncompounded LAUW is unexampled, so far as I can determine, one is
forced to go elsewhere to look for genuine cognates. I've checked a couple
different Greek etymological dictionaries and, wonder of wonders, they
agree on this one (quite frequently enough, they don't, which should
indicate how inexact a science much of etymology is--an awful lot is
guesswork, although much can really be established if one is very careful
about cognate consonants and vowels. At any rate, the root LAF/LAU (where
the F represents digamma or consonantal U) appears to be associated
fundamentally with the notion of "gain," or "fruition," or "positive

Compounding with APO- does not always work the same way, even if one can
see that APO is the cognate of English "off" and German "ab", so that often
it's force is "from" or "away from." But strictly on etymological grounds
the derivative sense from the components of APOLAUW should yield the sense,
"reap the satisfaction from," or "get the benefit of." That just may work
for the passages you have in mind, but I would add the obligatory word of
caution here, that the cultural history of a word may have much more to do
with its actual meaning than does its etymology, and in the course of its
cultural history, almost any word may very well travel far, far away from
the kind of meaning it started out with.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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