Etymology of Indigent

Jon Crucian

Identifying a helpless individual unable to meet his basic needs by himself (typically described as homeless), it is recorded in the fourteenth century from the Latin in the words indĭgens, indĭgentis, as a participle of indigere, for ‘need”, formed by the prefix indu-, to indicate the idea of interior, with roots in the Indo-European *endo-, coming from *in-, for ‘in’, accompanying the verb egēre, for ‘need,’ based on the Indo-European *eg-, for ‘lack’ or ‘miss’, and completed by the suffix -nt, in order to configure the adjective. In turn, the noun indigence is observed in Latin as indigentia, coming from the adjective.

In Old French it is presented as indigent, indigente, influencing most languages and particularly Portuguese (indigente) and English (indigent). It should be noted that in this case the prefix in- is not interpreted as a property of negation, as occurs, for example, on inconvenience (about a not convenience situation) or on indirect (as not being direct), but rather it is molded around the idea of internalizing, as in integrity (which conveys the message of having personal values) or influencer (which projects an exponential influence emerging from itself).

Likewise, this word and ‘indigenous’ (seen in the Latin indigĕna, defined by -gen, meaning ‘original’) have absolutely no relation, beyond the intention of attacking or disqualifying native peoples.

Search a Word