Etymology
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Words related to dis-

differ (v.)
Origin and meaning of differ

late 14c., "be unlike, dissimilar, distinct, or various," from Old French differer (14c.) and directly from Latin differre "to set apart, differ," from assimilated form of dis- "apart, away from" (see dis-) + ferre "to bear, carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry." Meaning "disagree, be of contrary opinion" is from 1560s.

Two senses that were present in Latin have gone separate ways in English in sense and spelling (probably based on different stress) since c. 1500, with defer (transitive) taking one set of meanings and differ (intransitive) the rest. Related: Differed; differing.

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difference (n.)
Origin and meaning of difference

mid-14c., "condition or relation of being other or different," also "any special mode of non-identity," from Old French difference"difference, distinction; argument, dispute" (12c.) and directly from Latin differentia "diversity, difference," from differentem (nominative differens), present participle of differre "to set apart,"  from assimilated form of dis- "apart, away from" (see dis-) + ferre "to bear, carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry." Sense of "controversy, dispute, a quarrel" is from late 14c.

different (adj.)
Origin and meaning of different

late 14c., "not the same, unlike, dissimilar in nature or quality as well as state of being," from Old French different (14c.), from Latin differentem (nominative differens) "differing, different," present participle of differre "to set apart," from assimilated form of dis- "apart, away from" (see dis-) + ferre "to bear, carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry." Colloquial sense of "special, out of the ordinary" is attested by 1912. Related: Differently.

difficulty (n.)
Origin and meaning of difficulty

late 14c., "want of easiness, that quality which makes something laborious or perplexing," from Anglo-French difficulté and directly from Latin difficultatem (nominative difficultas) "difficulty, distress, poverty," from difficilis "hard," from dis- "not, away from" (see dis-) + facilis "easy to do," from facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). From 1610s as "that which is difficult." Related: Difficulties.

diffidence (n.)
Origin and meaning of diffidence

c. 1400, "distrust, want of confidence, doubt of the ability or disposition of others," from Latin diffidentia "mistrust, distrust, want of confidence," from diffidere "to mistrust, lack confidence," from dis- "away" (see dis-) + fidere "to trust" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade"). The opposite of confidence. Original sense (distrust of others) is obsolete; the modern sense is of "distrust of oneself, want of confidence in one's ability, worth, or fitness" (1650s), hence "retiring disposition, modest reserve."  

Diffidence is a defect: it is an undue distrust of self, with fear of being censured for failure, tending to unfit one for duty. [Century Dictionary]
diffident (adj.)
Origin and meaning of diffident

mid-15c., "distrustful, wanting confidence in another's power," from Latin diffidentem (nominative diffidens), present participle of diffidere "to mistrust, lack confidence," from dis- "away" (see dis-) + fidere "to trust" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade"). Original sense is obsolete; modern sense of "distrustful of oneself, not confident" is by 1713. Compare diffidence. Related: Diffidently.

diffraction (n.)
Origin and meaning of diffraction

in optics, "the spreading of light or deflection of its rays," 1670s, from French diffraction (17c.) or directly from Modern Latin diffractionem (nominative diffractio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin diffringere "break apart in pieces," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + frangere "to break" (from PIE root *bhreg- "to break").

diffuse (v.)
Origin and meaning of diffuse

1520s (transitive), "to pour out and spread, cause to flow and spread;" 1650s (intransitive), "spread abroad, scatter in all directions;" from Latin diffusus, past participle of diffundere "to pour out or away," from dis- "apart, in every direction" (see dis-) + fundere "to pour" (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour"). Related: Diffused; diffusing.

diffuse (adj.)
Origin and meaning of diffuse

early 15c., "hard to understand;" also, of writers, "verbose, using many words;" from Latin diffusus, past participle of diffundere "scatter, pour out," from dis- "apart, in every direction" (see dis-) + fundere "to pour" (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour"). Meaning "widely spread or diffused, scattered" is from late 15c.

diffusion (n.)
Origin and meaning of diffusion

late 14c., diffusioun, "a copious outpouring," from Old French diffusion and directly from Latin diffusionem (nominative diffusio) "a pouring forth," noun of action from past-participle stem of diffundere "scatter, pour out," from dis- "apart, in every direction" (see dis-) + fundere "to pour" (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour"). Meaning "act of diffusing, state of being diffuse" is from 1590s; figurative sense of "a spreading abroad, dispersion" (of knowledge, etc.) is by 1750.

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