Friday, April 20, 2007


By request as a further extension of Cavort v. Frolic, it seems that Consort was also raised.

Consort comes from the Latin "con" (with) and "sors" (a share or lot), and by derivation from "consortem" for a partner or neighbor. The nominative usage derives directly from the etymology for some type of partner, whether that be the royal spouse or an accompanying vessel or even just an agreement, but I'm focusing on the verb. By extension of the noun, it came to mean our current usage of not just one who keeps company, but the act of "keeping company, associating" or "uniting in company". After all, it is not uncommon to "verbify" a noun (e.g., Xeroxing, Googling, spamming).

Now, the reason this all came up was probably due to a malapropism of consort with cavort, giving lascivious undertones to the latter which were actually improperly attributed. So, we have usages like "to cavort with a fellow employee" as I previously stated, but really the better usage is "to consort with a fellow employee". The former is the extreme of the less innocent meaning, and still has the happy prancing, while the latter is true intent that these two are engaged in a tryst. In the converse, we have "to consort with the enemy" being mistakenly said as "to cavort with the enemy". Not that I don't think the listener wouldn't understand what was being said, but the former is correct meaning that the two were likely plotting some coup, which the latter really means that the two were prancing somewhere merrily. Could happen, but was probably not what was intended. After figuring out the etymology of cavort with the whole horse thing, I don't think I'll ever confuse these words, and I'll just reserve consort for any sexual overtones and keep cavort pure.

As for usage, it has to be among sentient beings since consort carries an implied meaning of consent to the association. Dogs don't consort with cats, is not just true biologically, but also in order to maintain a calm household. The queen and her consort attended the ball. Duh. Weeds attempt unsuccessfully to consort with grass. Possibly, in a more expanded usage, giving a sarcastic degree of sentience to the weeds. That chair does not consort with that table. No, unless you are a decorator. I don't deign to consort with individuals who misuse common words. Ahh. Now, I feel better.

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