Content-Type: text/shitpost

Subject: Abort
Path: you!your-host!walldrug!prime-radiant!uunet!asr33!hardees!m5!plovergw!plover!shitpost!mjd
Date: 2018-01-18T06:38:01
Newsgroup: sci.math.abort
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I was once writing documentation in which I discussed a method for aborting a process or an operation of some sort.

One of the early reviewers suggested that the word “abort” might be offensive or at least jarring, bceause of its connection with aborted pregnancies, and I should consider changing it.

I was puzzled. “Isn't ‘abort’ the generic term for anything that is interrupted before it completes? And the use of ‘aborted’ for aborted pregnancies is only one application of the term, equal in importance to all the others?” I don't remember the eventual outcome of the discussion.

But I was mistaken. Last week I wondered about the etymology of ‘abort’: it looked like the ‘ab-’ might be the Latin ab- prefix that means “away from”, but what is ‘-ort’? So looked it up, and it turns out that I was mistaken. The interrupted pregnancy is the canonical example of an aborted process, to which all other applications of ‘abort’ are analogized. The original Latin is abortus “miscarriage”, from aborior “to miscarry”. The ab- is indeed the prefix, and -orior is to rise or get up. (Akin to English “orient”, the east, where the sun rises.)

Harper's Etymology Dictionary says that the term first appeared in English in the 1570s, and by 1610 it was being uesd for intentional terminations more generally. Oddly the Latin word for intentional termination of pregnancy was not related to aborior; it was abigo, abigere “to drive away”.