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Q&A

How did 'ad-' + 'rogare' compound to mean 'to make great claims about oneself'?

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  1. What does the prefix ad- semantically mean here?

  2. How did the compounding of ad- + rogare yield 'to make great claims about oneself' and "to claim for oneself, assume"?

  3. What semantic notions underlie ad- + rogare with 'to make great claims about oneself'? Doubtless, the act of asking for or proposing someone or something doesn't mean "to claim for oneself, assume".

arrogant [14] Etymologically, to be arrogant is to make great claims about oneself. It originated in the Latin compound verb arrogāre ‘claim for oneself’, formed from the prefix ad- ‘to’ and rogāre ‘ask’ (as in English interrogate). Already in Latin the present participle arrogāns was being used adjectivally, for ‘overbearing’, and this passed via Old French into English.

Word Origins (2005 2e) by John Ayto, pp 35-6. Ayto doesn't expound this semantic shift.

arrogance (n.)

c. 1300, from Old French arrogance (12c.),
from Latin arrogantia,
from arrogantem (nominative arrogans) "assuming, overbearing, insolent," present participle of [2.] arrogare "to claim for oneself, assume,"
[1.] from ad- "to" (see ad-) + rogare "ask, propose" (see rogation).

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It would take a literature search to prove it, but I think that the claimed etymology is not precisely correct for English. It is often the case for English that a word is adopted and then a mutation of it happens independently of mutations in the original language.

As an alternative source for arrogant, please consider arrogate:

https://www.merriam-webster.com arrogate: [verb] to claim or seize without justification. to make undue claims to having : assume.

I think Ayto is skipping arrogate as the source of the modern English arrogant because it might look like an unnecessary waypoint. However, the semantic similarity is important: arrogant is an adjectival form of the verb arrogate. An -ant ending signifies adjectives concerned with states of being: immigrant, contaminant, dominant.

The ad- prefix means "toward", specifically, rather than the indicator of an infinitive one might otherwise assume in English.

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