Words related to recent


word-forming element meaning "back, back from, back to the original place;" also "again, anew, once more," also conveying the notion of "undoing" or "backward," etc. (see sense evolution below), c. 1200, from Old French re- and directly from Latin re- an inseparable prefix meaning "again; back; anew, against."

Watkins (2000) describes this as a "Latin combining form conceivably from Indo-European *wret-, metathetical variant of *wert- "to turn." De Vaan says the "only acceptable etymology" for it is a 2004 explanation which reconstructs a root in PIE *ure "back."

In earliest Latin the prefix became red- before vowels and h-, a form preserved in redact, redeem, redolent, redundant, redintegrate, and, in disguise, render (v.). In some English words from French and Italian re- appears as ra- and the  following consonant is often doubled (see rally (v.1)).

The many meanings in the notion of "back" give re- its broad sense-range: "a turning back; opposition; restoration to a former state; "transition to an opposite state." From the extended senses in "again," re- becomes "repetition of an action," and in this sense it is extremely common as a formative element in English, applicable to any verb. OED writes that it is "impossible to attempt a complete record of all the forms resulting from its use," and adds that "The number of these is practically infinite ...."   

Often merely intensive, and in many of the older borrowings from French and Latin the precise sense of re- is forgotten, lost in secondary senses, or weakened beyond recognition, so that it has no apparent semantic content (receive, recommend, recover, reduce, recreate, refer, religion, remain, request, require). There seem to have been more such words in Middle English than after, e.g. recomfort (v.) "to comfort, console; encourage;" recourse (n.) "a process, way, course." Recover in Middle English also could mean "obtain, win" (happiness, a kingdom, etc.) with no notion of getting something back, also "gain the upper hand, overcome; arrive at;" also consider the legal sense of recovery as "obtain (property) by judgment or legal proceedings." 

And, due to sound changes and accent shifts, re- sometimes entirely loses its identity as a prefix (rebel, relic, remnant, restive, rest (n.2) "remainder," rally (v.1) "bring together"). In a few words it is reduced to r-, as in ransom (a doublet of redemption), rampart, etc.

It was used from Middle English in forming words from Germanic as well as Latin elements (rebuild, refill, reset, rewrite), and was used so even in Old French (regret, regard, reward, etc.).

Prefixed to a word beginning with e, re- is separated by a hyphen, as re-establish, re-estate, re-edify, etc. ; or else the second e has a dieresis over it: as, reëstablish, reëmbark, etc. The hyphen is also sometimes used to bring out emphatically the sense of repetition or iteration : as, sung and re-sung. The dieresis is not used over other vowels than e when re is prefixed : thus, reinforce, reunite, reabolish. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
recency (n.)

"state or quality of being recent," 1610s, from Medieval Latin recentia, from Latin recentem (nominative recens) "lately done or made, new, fresh, young" (see recent (adj.)). 


word-forming element in geology to indicate more recent periods, introduced by Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875), from Latinized form of Greek kainos "new," cognate with Latin recens (see recent). Also see Cenozoic.

Cenozoic (adj.)

"the third great geological period," 1841, Cainozoic, from Latinized form of Greek kainos "new, fresh, recent, novel" (see recent) + zōon "animal," but here with a sense of "life" (from PIE root *gwei- "to live"). The era that began with the demise of the dinosaurs and the rise of "recent" species and continues to the present; it also is known as the Tertiary. Compare Paleozoic, Mesozoic.

We observe that Lyell, in his geological works, even the most recent, uses the word Cainozoic instead of Coenozoic or Cenozoic. Why the propounder of the terms Eocene, Miocene, etc., should thus spell the word is incomprehensible. If he is right in it, then to be consistent he ought to say Eocain, Miocain, Pliocain, Post-pliocain; for all have the same root καινός. [American Journal of Sciences and Arts, 1873]
Paleocene (adj.)

in reference to the geological epoch preceding the Eocene, 1874, from French paléocène, coined 1874 by French paleobotanist Wilhelm Philippe Schimper from paleo- + Latinized form of Greek kainos "new" (see recent), on model of earlier Miocene, Eocene, etc. It is, thus, the "old new" age.

rinse (v.)

c. 1300, rinsen, rincen, "subject to light washing; wash with water only" (originally in liturgy; from mid-13c. in surname Rinsfet), from Old French reincier (transitive) "to wash, cleanse" (12c., Modern French rincer), probably a dissimilation of recincier, from Vulgar Latin *recentiare "to make fresh, to wash, cleanse with water," from Late Latin recentare "to make fresh," from Latin recens "new, fresh" (see recent). OED says any similarity in form and sense with Old Norse hreinsa is "prob[ably] accidental."

In general use, of bowls, cups, etc., c. 1400; the meaning "wash (laundry) a second time to remove remaining impurities, soap, etc. that may have been left" is by c. 1500. Related: Rinsed; rinsing.