renege (v.)

1540s, renegue, "deny, renounce, abandon" (archaic), from Medieval Latin renegare, from Latin re-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see re-), + negare "to refuse" (from PIE root *ne- "not").

The meaning "change one's mind, go back on (one's word or promise)" is by 1784. OED identifies this as "orig. and chiefly U.S.," and adds that it is "Now the dominant sense," in the spelling renege. Three of its first four examples of it in this sense spell it renig, renigged. Related: Reneged; reneging.

updated on June 30, 2021