"to soften," usually figuratively, of pain, anger, passion, grief, etc., c. 1300, from Anglo-French assuager, Old French assoagier "soften, moderate, alleviate, calm, soothe, pacify," from Vulgar Latin *adsuaviare, from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + suavis "sweet, agreeable," from PIE root *swād- "sweet, pleasant" (see sweet (adj.)). For sound development in French, compare deluge from Latin diluvium, abridge from abbreviare. Related: Assuaged; assuaging.
Entries linking to assuage
word-forming element expressing direction toward or in addition to, from Latin ad "to, toward" in space or time; "with regard to, in relation to," as a prefix, sometimes merely emphatic, from PIE root *ad- "to, near, at."
Simplified to a- before sc-, sp- and st-; modified to ac- before many consonants and then re-spelled af-, ag-, al-, etc., in conformity with the following consonant (as in affection, aggression). Also compare ap- (1).
In Old French, reduced to a- in all cases (an evolution already underway in Merovingian Latin), but written forms in French were refashioned after Latin in 14c. and English did likewise 15c. in words it had picked up from Old French. In many cases pronunciation followed the shift. Over-correction at the end of the Middle Ages in French and then English "restored" the -d- or a doubled consonant to some words that never had it (accursed, afford). The process went further in England than in France, where the vernacular sometimes resisted the pedantic, resulting in English adjourn, advance, address, advertisement (Modern French ajourner, avancer, adresser, avertissement). In modern word-formation sometimes ad- and ab- are regarded as opposites, but this was not in classical Latin.
Old English swete "pleasing to the senses, mind or feelings; having a pleasant disposition," from Proto-Germanic *swotja- (source also of Old Saxon swoti, Old Frisian swet, Swedish söt, Danish sød, Middle Dutch soete, Dutch zoet, Old High German swuozi, German süß), from PIE root *swād- "sweet, pleasant" (Sanskrit svadus "sweet;" Greek hedys "sweet, pleasant, agreeable," hedone "pleasure;" Latin suavis "pleasant" (not especially of taste), suadere "to advise," properly "to make something pleasant to"). Words for "sweet" in Indo-European languages typically are used for other sense as well and in general for "pleasing."
Then come kiss me, sweet-and-twenty!
Youth's a stuff will not endure.
Also "being in a sound or wholesome state" (mid-13c.), and, of water, "fresh, not salt" (late Old English). As an intensifier from 1958. Sweet in bed (c. 1300) was the equivalent of modern "good in bed." To be sweet on someone is first recorded 1690s. Sweet sixteen first recorded 1767. Sweet dreams as a parting to one going to sleep is attested from 1897, short for sweet dreams to you, etc. Sweet-and-sour in cookery is from 1723 and not originally of oriental food. Sweet nothings "sentimental trivialities" is from 1900. Sweet spot is from 1976, first in reference to tennis rackets. Sweet corn is from 1640s.
Abbreviate is the same word directly from Latin. The sound development that turned Latin -vi- to French -dg- is paralleled in assuage (from assuavidare) and deluge (from diluvium). Of writing, "shorten by omission," late 14c. Related: Abridged; abridging.