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?

  • 7
    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
  • 4
    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

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.

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