I recently read in some court papers that a defendant had exhibited "contumacious conduct". Not knowing what the word meant, I immediately looked up the definition and etymology, of course. The result was quite interesting. As can be inferred from the context clues, contumacious means "in a stubborn manner", particularly in a legal context. The word comes from Latin contumax, meaning "insolent" or "obstinate". However, the literal definition if you take it at face value is "inclined to scorn". This is because of the suffix -ax, meaning "inclined to", and the root contemnere, a verb meaning "to scorn" or "despise". -Ax is just a modifier which is the same in Proto-Indo-European. Contemnere, meanwhile, may be split into two parts: con-, meaning "with", and temnere, meaning "to despise" still (so the con- is somewhat redundant). Con-, as we've already seen before, is a conjugation of cum, which, through Proto-Italic, comes from Proto-Indo-European kom, meaning "next to". Temnere comes from PIE temh, meaning "to cut". That's all, folks: "cutting next to inclination!"
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd