Please help me dig deeper than the definition below, which I already understand and so ask NOT about. I heed the Etymological Fallacy. But what are some right ways of interpreting the etymology, to make the definition feel reasonable and intuitive?

3. partake of [Oxford Dictionaries] = Be characterized by (a quality)

How does (the particle) of cause partake of to diverge in meaning, from 'partake in' ?

I don't quote Etymonline, because it http://www.thesaurus.com/#discusses only the different 'partake in', about which I'm NOT asking here.

  • Because you are what you eat. If you "partook of the cake", then the cake is a little part of you, and you're a little bit cake. This is how communion is applied in Catholicism, for example:
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 30, 2014 at 10:33
  • Because originally, partake meant To take sides; to take part against or with a person. Obs. (OED). Leading to the later sense to possess the same nature; to have qualities or characteristics in common - because forces on the same "side" in a "conflict" obviously have at least something in common (if only the fact of having a common enemy). Aug 30, 2014 at 12:55
  • 1
    You should clearly say where your quotes are taken from. Apr 27, 2015 at 18:39
  • @EdwinAshworth Thanks. I did, but I mistakenly added a redundantly extra pair of brackets that invalidated the link. Fixed.
    – user50720
    Apr 27, 2015 at 19:00

2 Answers 2


Well, "partake of" generally means "to take part in".

So, if you "partake of" a certain quality, that means you take part in a certain quality. Here's an example:

Many recent books partake of Faulkner's wordiness.

So, each new book "joins in" with the quality, and thus becomes part of the group (wordy books) that is characterized by it.

  • Sorry, but would you please clarify how this answers my question? I ask not for examples, but how does "partake of" mean "to take part in" (as you claim)?
    – user50720
    Apr 27, 2015 at 18:10
  • Yes, in my example, the books "take part in" the quality of being wordy. Apr 27, 2015 at 21:54
  • Sorry, but it’s still unclear to me how this answers my question. 'partake OF' does NOT mean 'to take part in'. Instead, you are referring to 'partake IN', which I ask NOT about.
    – user50720
    May 5, 2015 at 0:51

it just means ..

"the birth of twins became an event which partook of the mythic"

it "takes from" that Large Quality. It's that simple.

(indeed, "event .. partook of the mythic" - or very similar phrases - is about the only way you'd use that sense!)

It's almost like saying ... "joined in"

"the dot com joined in the general Apple frisson of the 2000s..."

"the dot com partook in the general Apple frisson of the 2000s..."

  • Sorry, but would you please clarify how this answers my question? For example, where's "the birth of twins became an event which partook of the mythic" from?
    – user50720
    Apr 27, 2015 at 18:13
  • Can you please enlarge and explain how partake of ``"takes from" that Large Quality`? A literal paraphrase helps me more than 'joined in'. Would you please respond in your answer, which is easier to read than comments?
    – user50720
    Jul 11, 2015 at 2:12
  • "partake" simply means to take some of. say there is a dance with music. if you partake of the music and partake of the dancing, you are - in fact - dancing. you have joined the dance. many people have repeated this many times, and it's difficult to see how it can be clearer. if you're saying the meaning "3" is a "bit of a stretch" - ok, so what? that's common with words.
    – Fattie
    Jul 11, 2015 at 2:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.