Do You Have to Be “Jected” Before You Can Be “Rejected”?

We interrupt our discussion of contranyms to tackle this question from author Tsgoyna Tanzman: “In order to be rejected do you first have to be jected?

‘‘Fortunately,” she continues, “I don’t think I’ve been jected of any kind lately, including dejected. Oh, but maybe I was. Do blood tests count? I know shots do.”

Shots are “injected,” but you wouldn’t really say blood samples are “ejected.”

“Reject,” “deject,” “inject” and “eject” all have the same root, “-ject,” which comes from Latin iacere ‘to throw.’ The prefix “re-“ means ‘back’ or ‘again.’  When you “reject” something you ‘throw [it] back,’ like an undersized fish. In the 13th century the word was used to refer to an animal kicking backwards and to vomiting.

The adjective “abject” entered English later through French. The prefix “ab-“ means ‘away,’ so the word referred to a person ‘cast down or rejected.’ “Deject” is to ‘throw down.’ “Inject” is literally to ‘throw in’; “eject” is to ‘throw out’ and “project” is to ‘throw forward.’

But wait: there’s more. An “object” is something ‘thrown before the senses or the mind.’ “Subject,” in the sense of ‘one who is under the dominion of a monarch,’ came into Middle English by way of Old French from Latin subjectus ‘brought under,’ past participle of subicere, from sub- ‘under’ + iacere ‘throw.’ Then there’s “conjecture,” ‘a conclusion derived from comparison of facts’ that are thrown together:  con- ‘together’ + iacere ‘throw.’

If no one objects to the subject I’ll inject still more words derived from iactare next time.

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