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Why does unremitting mean going on without interruptions?

Here I think un- means opposite.

remit means "send back". So remitting means the action of remit. There seems no issue of whether interruptions are involved.

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closed as off-topic by MετάEd, user49727, Rory Alsop, Andrew Leach, Matt E. Эллен Nov 12 '13 at 15:08

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Unremitting, remit, remission –  Matt E. Эллен Nov 12 '13 at 15:08

2 Answers 2

Remit has more than one definition. The important one to consider here is:

intransitive verb
1. a : to abate in force or intensity

source — Merriam Webster

So unremitting here means without abating in force or intensity or with constant force or intensity.

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'Remit' is a word with several meanings, both as verb and noun. But the first of those meanings in my dictionary (ODE) is 'cancel or refrain from exacting or inflicting (a debt or punishment)' The example it gives is: 'The excess of the sentence over 12 months was remitted'.

The word that used to be used in Britain, before 'parole' was adopted, was 'remission'. In the 1950s one used to hear of prisoners getting 'remission'.

It is not so much used in the present participle, except in the negative 'unremitting'. e.g. unremitting toil.

I think that we tend to use 'remit' in this sense more than the Americans. The reason for that may be that they use the word more in another sense of sending a payment.

In Britain we also use the noun 'remit' as 'a task or area of activity officially assigned to an individual or organisation' - 'The committee was caught up in issues which did not fall within its remit'.

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What does "refrain from exacting or enforcing" mean? –  Tim Nov 10 '13 at 6:36
@Tim I think you need to get your dictionary out Tim! Those three words should be there. –  WS2 Nov 10 '13 at 9:23

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