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Has anybody ever heard of 'Complaisant'?

Ross at Play

The Word of the Day from dictionary.com is 'obsequious'. Their definition is:

characterized by or showing servile complaisance or deference; fawning

I was surprised by the word 'complaisance'. I would use 'compliance' instead.
My OALD doesn't list it.
Is this another example of Americans mispronouncing something so often it becomes "accepted"? By them, maybe.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

Just seeing the word, I'd initially think it(complaisance) was a typo/phonetic attempt at complacent. Obviously, the definitions differ. I do think I've encountered the word previously, but that was probably on occasion of using the dictionary to find a word with somewhat comparable spelling. (Such as complacent)

richardshagrin

@Ross at Play

plaisance

"Plaisance is a French word, meaning pleasantness, derived from the Latin placentia 'acceptable things'." Com plaisance would probably be "with plaisance". I couldn't find "sequiance" to see where ob sequious comes from. "ob" is a fairly frequently used modifier like ob jection, or ob vious, or ob solete.

Replies:   Ross at Play
StarFleet Carl

@Ross at Play

complaisance


I highlighted the word itself asked Google to search for it. It came back that it's the French translation for complacency. I then did definition complaisance and found it's an old word (first use 1651) on the Merriam-Webster site, it's not a common word, and as it was used by a New York Times market writer in 2016 in the following sentence "There are more emphatic reasons for the market's complaisance.", it's a snob word. (MacMillan Dictionary calls it a very formal word.)

My simple definition of snob words - using this slightly different sounding and spelling of the regular word (in this case, complacency) because the writer thinks it makes him look more refined.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

Is this another example of Americans mispronouncing something so often it becomes "accepted"? By them, maybe.

Maybe Australians don't know the term because they never need it.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

Maybe Australians don't know the term because they never need it.

Ich gebe zu, mein Meister

Ross at Play
Updated:

@richardshagrin

I think Richard wins the prize.

As far as I can tell, both 'complaisance' and 'compliance' have the same Latin root, but the snob word came via French.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Ross at Play

The word "complaisant" is actually part of my regular vernacular. You hear it most often, in the U.S., at least, when the government does something that someone feels they should be upset about, and yet the public at large doesn't respond.

"Complaisance" means 'going along without complaining' while "complaisant" is a verb meaning largely the same thing but in a different context.

But I've heard the phrase for most of my natural life (60 years).

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

"complainant"

Surely you meant "compliant" there?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Surely you meant "compliant" there?

I mistakenly dropped the "s". But yes, "complaisant" is more commonly derived from "compliant" than from either ancient Latin or French. "Compliant" means 'going along' while "complaisant" means, 'not objecting to', a more precise, often judgmental term implying they deserve whatever they get for not objecting to it when they could have done something about it.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

The word "complaisant" is actually part of my regular vernacular. You hear it most often, in the U.S.

The thing that surprised me about this one was it's rare that words shift to add extra sounds.
The only one I recall is 'compliance' which seems to come naturally from 'comply'.
I understood what had happened when I learned the equivalent word in French had an 's' sound.
The same root word had arrived in English twice via different routes. That's not particularly unusual.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Ernest Bywater

I've not heard the word used in a couple of decades, but I have heard it used before, but never seen it in writing. It's usually used in a situation where someone doesn't really agree with what's planned or happening, but they go along with it anyway.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

often judgmental term implying they deserve whatever they get

That makes sense. If a dialect has two very similar words with the same meaning then some nuance between will develop.

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@Ross at Play

To me, compliant always suggested I was doing what the boss wanted me to do, while complaisant meant I was going along to get along, probably with an acquaintance.

Banadin

I think it is time to proceed froward from this conversation.

Replies:   richardshagrin
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

it's rare that words shift to add extra sounds


No it's not: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epenthesis

Replies:   Ross at Play
richardshagrin

@Banadin

froward

"Definition of froward
1 : habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition
2 archaic : adverse"

If Banadin says so, He must be right, except with a lie or two. Disobedience and opposition are normal on this againstum.

Grant

@Crumbly Writer

The word "complaisant" is actually part of my regular vernacular. You hear it most often, in the U.S., at least, when the government does something that someone feels they should be upset about, and yet the public at large doesn't respond.

Here in Australia the word used is "complacent."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

it's rare that words shift to add extra sounds
No it's not: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epenthesis

That paper, which I could not stomach reading in detail, included those types of changes as words shifted from one language to another.
I only meant shifts in words over time in the same language. My guess is still that those shifts tend not to add extra sounds to words. But I sincerely do not care.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Crumbly Writer

@Grant

Here in Australia the word used is "complacent."

Yeah, you're right, that's the word I was thinking of. I've never used "complaisant", and seeing as it's essentially the exact same meaning as "complacent", I have no clue why it exists in English at all.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Here in Australia the word used is "complacent."

I disagree with both you and Grant about the meaning of "complacent". I use both that and "compliant" with totally different meanings.

The OALD definitions are:

complacent (usually disapproving) too satisfied with yourself or with a situation, so that you do not feel that any change is necessary; showing or feeling complacency

compliant (usually disapproving) too willing to agree with other people or to obey rules

complaisant (old-fashioned) ready to accept other people's actions and opinions and to do what other people want

The meaning of "complacent" is quite different to the other two. It means too willing to accept a situation or their own actions. The other two mean too willing to accept what somebody else does or wants.

Their definitions suggest the nuance differentiating the latter two is that "compliant" is 'usually disapproving'.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

Merriam-Webster:

The homophones complaisant and complacent are often confused - and no wonder. Not only do they look and sound alike, but they also both derive ultimately from Latin complacēre, meaning "to please greatly." Complacent usually means "self-satisfied" or "unconcerned," but it also shares with complaisant the sense of "marked by an inclination to please or oblige." This sense of complacent is an old one, but that hasn't kept language critics from labeling it as an error - and on the whole, modern writers do prefer complaisant for this meaning. Conversely, complaisant is sometimes mistakenly used in contexts such as "complaisant about injustices," where complacent, with its sense of "marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies," should go. One aid is to remember that with the preposition "about," you probably want complacent.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@robberhands

Merriam-Webster: The homophones complaisant and complacent

Their explanation would have been what I thought - if 'complaisant' was replaced by 'compliant' throughout.
Yesterday I would have thought 'complaisant' was not even a valid word. I would use 'compliant' instead whenever others use it.
It does appear to be an American usage. The OALD describes it as 'old-fashioned'. I think that is correct for BrE, but it is still being used in AmE.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

You haven't resorted to ngrams yet ;)

A quick search of SOL turned up over 20 occurrences of complaisant. With three similar words having such similar meanings, it's difficult to tell whether the authors actually chose the most appropriate one.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

You haven't resorted to ngrams yet ;)

No. That would not prove I don't recall ever hearing the word before, and the word 'compliant' would have been used instead for that meaning.

Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

That paper, which I could not stomach reading in detail, included those types of changes as words shifted from one language to another.
I only meant shifts in words over time in the same language. My guess is still that those shifts tend not to add extra sounds to words. But I sincerely do not care.


This has to be the first time I've seen someone refer to a Wikipedia article as a "paper".

Also, it has plenty of examples of epenthesis within a language. The way words and how they are pronounced change over time is a well-tread field of linguistics. There's no need to guess—you can actually go look it up.

And if you sincerely do not care, then don't spout off uneducated guesses that a handful of seconds doing research shows to be false.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

I am going to grant you the benefit of the doubt for the tone of your last post.

1. I did not look at what I was clicking on when I went to the link you provided. The format was completely unfamiliar to me. I did not know it was a Wiki article.

2. I thought I had made my meaning clear when it said it was rare for sounds to be added into words. I only ever meant to single, isolated words within a language. That is what the example in the OP would have been if the meaning had not arrived twice in English via different routes.

I did not mean my suggestion to include either (a) during the process of a new word entering a language, (b) as a consequence of general change across a language in the pronunciation of some class of sounds, or (c) mispronunciations by a few speakers which never become accepted alternative spellings.

After reading that link carefully, almost 3,000 words long, I could only find four instances of isolated words changing to a new form with an extra sound that did not result from the conditions I just listed -- across all languages which use the Roman alphabet. Those were:
In Modern English: 'amongst' and a few other words with -st endings
In Modern English: 'thunder' contains a 'd' not present in the Old English 'thunor'
In Modern Greek: 'ambrotos' contains a 'b' not present in the Proto-Greek 'amrotos'
In Dutch: the pronunciation of the city name 'Delft' is /DEL-lift/

I think it is accurate to claim that it is extremely rare that extra sounds are added to words which already exist in languages.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Ross at Play

I am fed up with discussing any word beginning with 'compl...'
Today's word of the day is 'fenestrated'.
Okay, methinks, I know 'defenestrated' is something really awful, but what is it's opposite?
The meaning of 'fenestrated' was given as:

adjective (Architecture) having windows; windowed; characterized by windows

WTF?, methinks, what could possibly be something really awful and the opposite of windows???
OH! Yes, I guess that would be unpleasant.

verb (used with object) to throw (a person or thing) out of a window

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

The meaning of 'fenestrated' was given as:

adjective (Architecture) having windows; windowed; characterized by windows


Complexifenestrated: having Windows 10.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Complexifenestrated: having Windows 10.

LOL. After that one, I forgive you for all the harassment you've been giving me above. :-)

Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

I did not look at what I was clicking on when I went to the link you provided. The format was completely unfamiliar to me. I did not know it was a Wiki article.


Huh? It looks like every other Wikipedia article, and has "Wikipedia" clearly emblazoned across the top. I'm not sure it could be any more obvious without being obnoxious. (Though admittedly, most of the time, I use an app for Wikipedia rather than the website, but I can't exactly send you a link there)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

...do they really not teach about the Defenestration of Prague in the schools anymore?

Actually, I guess since y'all are like twice my age, I guess it's the other way around: they actually teach us about the Defenestration of Prague in schools anymore.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

I started reading at the beginning of the text. I did not look at Wikipedia emblazoned across the top.
I always open Wiki at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page. I have never seen anything with the same format as the link you provided.
Please! I'm feeling cranky about other things today. You do not seem to me like your normal self today. Just for today, will you leave me alone unless you have something you feel a need to direct at me?
Good night.

Dominions Son

@Geek of Ages

...do they really not teach about the Defenestration of Prague in the schools anymore?


How do you throw a city out of a window? :)

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

WTF?, methinks, what could possibly be something really awful and the opposite of windows???

Macs? Linux?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

Defenestration

I had to look it up:

de·fen·es·tra·tion
dēˌfenəˈstrāSHən/
noun
noun: defenestration; plural noun: defenestrations

1. formal humorous
the action of throwing someone or something out of a window.
"death by defenestration has a venerable history"
2. informal
the action of dismissing someone from a position of power or authority.
"that victory resulted in Churchill's own defenestration by the war-weary British electorate"

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Macs? Linux?

AJ has already made a joke about Windows. He his joke worked. Yours fails because Macs and Linux are not "really awful".

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

2. informal
the action of dismissing someone from a position of power or authority.
"that victory resulted in Churchill's own defenestration by the war-weary British electorate"

Ahh! THAT'S where I had heard it before. :)
My sense is in BrE it is used to describe dire consequences for politicians when for non-politicians you might prefer a figurative use of 'castrated'.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@Ross at Play

The best I could do is from a dictionary compiled by a Canadian professor working in Wayne State U, Detroit called Dr Steven Chrisomalis

Complaisant wishing to please others; obliging

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

It's a shame there isn't a similar $100 word for the very similar 'throwing someone under a bus', and the sporting vernacular 'parking the bus'.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

It's a shame there isn't a similar $100 word for the very similar 'throwing someone under a bus'

It's not a $100 word but an older expression in America has recently acquired that precise meaning: Appointment as a Cabinet Secretary.

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