9

The word of the day:

† expectaltee, n.

Obs. rare. A person who expects something. [OED]

You might ask how on the earth expectaltee is a word. Well, apparently it is a word but the origin is uncertain according to OED.

Etymology: Origin uncertain. Apparently ultimately related to expect v.

Perhaps compare Spanish expectante person who awaits or expects something, use as noun of expectante that expects or awaits something (both first half of the 15th cent.: see expectant adj. and n.), although if this were the etymon, the alteration of the ending would be difficult to account for.

There is only one citation in OED and it is also one of the two results from Google Books.

Peeces compiled..out of Plutarchs fulness and Seneca's quickness, would undoubtedly fill the mouth of the most gaping Expectaltee among Readers.

1654, R. Whitlock Ζωοτομία Pref. sig. a,

The other result in Google Books is from the book Studies in the Lexical Field of Expectation, Volume 90 by Louise Sylvester and here is the relevant excerpt:

As we might expect, French and Latin together account for all but one of the borrowings from Romance languages: the remaining item (expectaltee 1654, to be found in I.1 and with two citations from a single author in the OED), having been borrowed from Spanish. The Spanish borrowing clearly never became sufficiently acclimatized in the language to admit of foreign affixes or to be used to form compound.

Questions:

  • Can we conclude that it is coined by R. Whitlock? OED gives only one citation but the book Studies in the Lexical Field of Expectation, Volume 90 claims that OED had two citations from the same author (I don't know if OED deleted the other one) and mentions another citation also.

  • How is this word formed? Might it be malformation based on the pronunciation of Spanish expectante? I'm not sure if any other word ends with "altee" (if we can even consider it a suffix).

Spanish has the suffix -ante (-nte, -ente, -iente) that forms adjectives and nouns from verbs. For example, English borrowed vigilante from Spanish as is. The same suffix -ante is used in French and Italian and we borrowed words like confidante and dilettante.

  • It appears that there is a reference to 2 OED citations also here: historicalthesaurus.arts.gla.ac.uk/category/?id=121274& – user66974 Jun 29 '15 at 17:36
  • Are the following the two citations from OED? expectaltee (Obs.rare) [? Corruption of Sp. espectante, one who is on the look-out.]: 1) 1654 Whittock Zootomia A, Peeces compiled..out of Plutarchs fulness..would undoubtedly fill the mouth of the most gaping Expectaltee among Readers. 2) * Ibid. A vij, To all gaping Expectaltees (that look for more than here they are like to finde) my Book replyeth [etc.].* findwords.info/term/expectaltee – user66974 Jun 29 '15 at 17:42
  • @Josh61: I think OED deleted this part:" Ibid. A vij, To all gaping Expectaltees (that look for more than here they are like to finde) my Book replyeth [etc.]. " – ermanen Jun 29 '15 at 17:57
  • Note that vigilante in English is dated to 1856, whereas grandee (from Spanish grande) is dated to 1598. If Whitlock (or someone else in the middle of the seventeenth century) sought an anglicized form for "expectalte," he might well have looked to grandee as his model. – Sven Yargs Jun 30 '15 at 22:03
  • For some reason I'm put in mind of snake-oil salesmen and carnival barkers - who often used large, important-sounding words to impress their audiences. Perhaps the orphan "L" is the result of the melding of "expectante" and "especial" - a new word to describe someone who expects to see something special, or amazing. (Clue from the quote in OP's question: "...fill the mouth of the most gaping expectaltee..." - certainly sounds like he's describing a rube.) – Oldbag Jul 7 '15 at 10:06
1

What an amazing question! Thank you for sharing this.

I don't know if we can conclude that this lovely word was invented by R. Whitlock, although it seems likely. It certainly seems to be one of these "poetic words" invented by poets.

My own belief about the way he might have derived it is that he started with two rules: first, the English tendency to make an accusative by adding "ee" on the end (like "employee"); then, using the word "expectal" (rather than expectant), because of the tendency to add "al" to make an adjective (as in "fractal", "genial").

  • Hello Katharine. I'm not sure how common either of these derivational processes was back in the 1650s. Are you? – Edwin Ashworth Aug 19 '15 at 16:12
  • @EdwinAshworth expanded. – Nemo Dec 27 '16 at 9:27
  • @Nemo Another user and I rejected your edit because the question is not about adding "ee" and "al" as suffixes. I don't think your edit helps improve this post. – user140086 Dec 27 '16 at 10:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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