1640s, "during, in the process of, for the time of the continuance of," a preposition formed on the model of French pendant "during," literally "hanging," present participle of pendere "to hang, cause to hang" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin").
The meaning is patterned on "not decided" as a secondary sense of Latin pendente (literally "hanging") in the legal phrase pendente lite "while the suit is pending, during the litigation" (with the ablative singular of lis "suit, quarrel"). The use of the present participle before nouns caused it to be regarded as a preposition. As an adjective from 1797.
updated on March 19, 2020
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