lingering words: delinquent

Reading Foucault's Discipline and Punish at the moment and was briefly struck by his use of delinquent. The OED defines it as "Failing in, or neglectful of, a duty or obligation; defaulting; faulty; more generally, guilty of a misdeed or offence"; as a noun, it means, "One who fails in duty or obligation, a defaulter; more generally, one guilty of an offence against the law, an offender". Interestingly, the word is rarely used prior to 1600 (with one exception in 1484), suggesting perhaps a emergent way of thinking about people in the early parts of the 17th century (this argument, in turn, follows Foucault's work in D&P).

The word enters English by way of the French, it seems, though that word in turn is derived from the Latin delinquere. Following the OED's links, there's a related, now obsolete, verb delinque: Not defined, the dictionary suggests only to see the quotation, from Henry Cockeram's The English dictionarie, or an interpreter of hard English words 1623 (1626): "To Leaue, delinque".

That meaning, again, coming from the Latin. All of which isn't nearly as suggesting as I was hoping, but interesting nevertheless.


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