Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Word Choice Wednesday: Abide


Merriam-Webster says:
to wait for : await
a: to endure without yielding : withstand b: to bear patiently : tolerate
to accept without objection
to remain stable or fixed in a state
to continue in a place : sojourn

This is a ten cent word, I think. It's poetic, a bit archaic. It contributes to a distinct tone when used with other high value words. 

More specific than:
Wait, stay or continue. Abide is a very quiet word, for me. Full of stillness and patience. Zen.

Word relationships:
Endure, mentioned in the definition, is more a more active verb. Enduring implies resistance, suffering, and challenges. Waiting can be fidgety and restless, which abiding isn't.

Bear, in the sense of tolerating, is of similar value and tone to abide, but still implies more suffering IMO. Tolerate is a more common, lower value, word that can cover a wide variety of actual behaviors.  

Abide in the sense of residing someplace is even a bit more archaic. You're getting into sacred text tones when you say things like I will abide in the house of the Lord forever. Reside is the closest synonym I can think of, though it's far more current a term.

What comes to your mind?


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your sense of stillness and patience in this word.

I think of "abide" as an old-fashioned marriage-word: "abide with me." Stay, remain, endure through the bad times, work through the day-to-day, enjoy the good times, be there at the end.

In a character's mouth, it would definitely peg that person as old-fashioned, or either putting on airs or genuinely, charmingly out of touch. Unless, like me, you're writing historical.

MKHutchins said...

The first thing that pops to mind is the hymn "Abide with Me, 'Tis Eventide", then I think of abode. Neat word with a lot of flavor.

I hadn't read your Word Choice Wednesday before, but this is a cool segment.

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