Entries linking to unassuming
prefix of negation, Old English un-, from Proto-Germanic *un- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German un-, Gothic un-, Dutch on-), from PIE *n- (source of Sanskrit a-, an- "not," Greek a-, an-, Old Irish an-, Latin in-), combining form of PIE root *ne- "not." Often euphemistic (such as untruth for "lie").
The most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- (1) the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.
It also makes words from phrases (such as uncalled-for, c. 1600; undreamed-of, 1630s; uncome-at-able, 1690s; unputdownable, 1947, of a book; un-in-one-breath-utterable, Ben Jonson; etc., but the habit is not restricted to un-; such as put-up-able-with, 1812). As a prefix in telegramese to replace not and save the cost of a word, it is attested by 1936.
early 15c., "to arrogate, take upon oneself," from Latin assumere, adsumere "to take up, take to oneself, take besides, obtain in addition," from ad "to, toward, up to" (see ad-) + sumere "to take," from sub "under" (see sub-) + emere "to take" (from PIE root *em- "to take, distribute").
The meaning "to suppose, to take for granted without proof as the basis of argument" is recorded by 1590s; that of "to take or put on fictitiously" (an appearance, etc.) is from c. 1600. Related: Assumed; assuming.
The early past participle was assumpt. In rhetorical usage, assume expresses what the assumer postulates, often as a confessed hypothesis; presume expresses what the presumer really believes. Middle English also had assumpten "to receive up into heaven" (especially of the Virgin Mary), from the Latin past participle.
updated on February 25, 2014