crease, increase, decrease

The weather has been so quirky here in Southern California this year we didn’t give up hope that we might have another swim in our solar-heated swimming pool until late November. As we folded the pool cover my husband said, “It’s creased over there; can you decrease it?”

Sure, I thought, but if I decrease it, it won’t be big enough to cover the pool.

So what does “crease” in the sense of ‘a wrinkle or fold’ have to do with “-crease” in “increase” or “decrease”? The stem “-crease” derives from Latin crēscĕre, ‘to grow,’ so “decreasing” is ‘de-growing.’

Crēscĕre is also the source of “crescendo,” “crescent,” (the crescent moon is growing), and “excrement.” No, no. Get your mind out of the sewer.  This “excrement” is an obsolete word meaning, ‘that which grows out or forth; an outgrowth; said esp. of hair, nails, feathers.’ The other “excrement” has a different source. We won’t go there.

And “crease,” meaning ‘fold’? Origin unknown.

 

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