English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Perhaps I don't fully understand the word, but it always confuses me.

When talking about money:

The money was remitted.

Which means that the money was transmitted/transferred successfully.

But it also means:

  • Cancel or refrain from exacting or inflicting (a debt or punishment).
  • Pardon (a sin).

What are the reasons that when referring to money as remitted, it is a positive, otherwise negative?

share|improve this question
Simple. It's an exchange situation, so obligations and transfer work in both directions. Like credit (Lat 'he trusts') and debit ('he owes'), remit (< remittere 'send back, relax, diminish, abandon') has to do with keeping, collecting, or cancelling obligations to pay. If you remit your payment, your debt is remitted. Works both ways, like transfer. – John Lawler Jun 3 '13 at 2:23
It may be worth noting that the noun generally associated with remitting money is remittance, while the related noun generally associated with pardon (for example, of sin) or abatement (for example of an illness) is remission. – Sven Yargs Jun 3 '13 at 3:18
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can think of remit as meaning "to let it go".

So in case of monetary payments, it ends up meaning transfer.

In case of monetary receipts, it is renouncement.

In case of duty, it is dereliction.

In case of punishment, it is forgiveness.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.