30-Second Word Whoop: “Abandon”

downloadTo love someone with abandon means to give it your all. Yet “abandonment” can be grounds for legal action.

An abandoned puppy inspires pity and tenderness; an abandoned house, fear or disgust.

Let’s break this one down pictorially (because I know you can’t stop looking at the sad puppy picture):

abandonThe operative word here is “control.” You lose control when you give up.

Abandon an idea (it dies); abandon a property (other forces like decline and decomposition take over); abandon a fight (the bad guys win); abandon a family (you are dead to them, Bud).

To eat or do anything with wild abandon? Requires exercising no self-control.

What I like about “abandon,” is it almost always gets to be on the first page of the dictionary. There’s a hidden definition for “abandoned” in mine — means “shamefully wicked” or “immoral.” So let’s check the other “good book” for some religious authority:

From Romans 1:27: “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.”

From 1 Timothy 4:1: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

abandon-hope-all-ye-who-enter-here-e1285714292550Dante’s early-14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy  originated that not-so-tickly phrase: Abandon all hope ye who enter here,” the supposed warning at the gates of hell. From the 1814 translation into English by the Rev. H. F. Cary:

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.

Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.

Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon ye who enter here.

Such characters in colour dim I mark’d
Over a portal’s lofty arch inscrib’d:
Whereat I thus: Master, these words import.

I echo the sentiment. Words carry great import; use them wisely. Abandon not thy dictionary.

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About Terry Byrne

Writer-editor with deep reservations about holding her tongue. Fan of both nature and nurture. Lifelong fascination with gender studies, sexuality, music and brainpower.

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