Word Nerd: Accept for Me

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This week’s Word Nerd topic is an example of that rare bird, the antonym, which is defined as “two words that are opposites,” which makes it a little comical to see this error in action.

Accept: to receive; to agree or consent to; to regard as true or sound; believe.

Except: other than; apart from; to exclude; leave out.

exceptAccept comes from around 1400, from the Old French accepter “to take what is offered,” or directly from the Latin acceptare “take or receive willingly,” which is a compound word made from ad- “to” and capere “to take.” It’s related to the word capable.

Except is also from around 1400, and also comes to English from the French; in this case, it’s the Middle French excepter, from the Latin exceptus, which is the past participle of excipere meaning “take out.” It’s made from from ex- “out” plus capere “to take.”

If you say “everybody accept Bob” you’re telling everyone to recognize that Bob is part of the group. If you say “everybody except Bob” you are telling Bob he’s not included.

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