Angela’s ABCs: Latin is Alive and Well and Living in English by Angela Caldin

The Latin verb cedere means to go away, to withdraw, to yield, to grant, to surrender possession.

From this derives the English verb to cede:

  • Russia ceded Alaska to the U.S. in 1867.
  • After a lively debate, she finally ceded the point to her opponent.

By the addition of prefixes also derived from Latin, the verb to cede has acquired various offspring:

To recede meaning to go backwards:

  • His hairline receded over the years.
  • It was many days before the floodwaters began to recede.

To accede meaning to give one’s consent or to come into a public office:

  • He finally acceded to the request for clearer information.
  • The Queen acceded to the throne in 1953.

To precede meaning to go before:

  • The main feature film is often preceded by some lengthy adverts.
  • Jim preceded Eric in the long line of Rita’s husbands.

To secede meaning to withdraw formally from membership of an organisation, association, or alliance:

  • The kingdom of Belgium seceded from the Netherlands in 1830.
  • Many countries gained independence when they seceded from the crumbling Soviet Union.

To concede meaning to acknowledge as true, just, or proper, to admit, to grant or to yield:

  • He finally conceded that she had been right to sell the shares when she did.
  • Just before midnight, as the final votes were being counted, the government conceded defeat.

To intercede meaning to plead on another’s behalf or to act as a mediator in a dispute:

  • When she was accused of lying, several employees interceded on her behalf.
  • Catholics often ask the saints to intercede with God to grant their prayers.



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