According to Webster, agree comes from Latin ad + gratus. However there are other words such as aggregate and aggression that also come from ad + [something], and these words are spelled with a double "g" while agree only has a single "g". Why does agree have only one "g"?

  • If you want to try and understand the vagaries of English spelling, take a look at David Crystal's excellent book Spell It Out. Why is committee spelled with three double letters when the French word it derives from comité has none. Maybe a committee decided it should be that way! – KCH Apr 13 '14 at 1:24
  • Because English spelling is very irregular? – David Richerby Apr 13 '14 at 10:10

Per the online etymology dictionary the word comes to English via Old French agreer which was derived from a gré literally to one's liking.

This did come from ad gratum but not without a lengthy trip through France.

The double-g wasn't present in the phrase a gré hence not brought over.

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  • You were first by 6 seconds! I'll kill mine - feel free to steal anything in it you like. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 12 '14 at 19:04
  • @StoneyB no worries. I wouldn't object to you keeping yours. – David M Apr 12 '14 at 19:11
  • I am still a tad bit confused. Did the French prefer not to aggregate or become aggressive? These words traveled to England by a different route? – Travis Apr 22 '14 at 1:37

Actually, it is all a bit more complicated. In Middle English we find agry, agree, but also aggre, aggree etc. In Middle French too we have agrer, agreer, but also aggreer etc. So the decision to spell it with just one g in Modern English and Modern French is rather arbitrary. Mediaeval Latin aggreare is a back-formation from French.

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  • I'll upvote, if you can provide any documented reference/evidence :) – Mari-Lou A Apr 12 '14 at 19:58
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    Up- and down-voting is of no importance to me, but documentation is: oed.com/view/Entry/4146?rskey=8LGWzm&result=2#eid; cnrtl.fr/definition/agreer – fdb Apr 12 '14 at 20:12
  • Unfortunately, I don't have a subscription to the OED and in the second French link there were no words beginning with agg. – Mari-Lou A Apr 12 '14 at 20:15
  • The spellings in ME and MF are listed in the OED. You should be able to find it in any well-stocked library. – fdb Apr 12 '14 at 20:18
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    For MF there is also this: atilf.atilf.fr/scripts/… – fdb Apr 12 '14 at 20:23

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