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Competitive


naturally determined to win; as good as or better than the rest

Published on: Friday 5th July 2019

Com pet i tive

The suffix –ive implies something that is a natural characteristic, so competitive means that competing is a part of someone’s personality, or is an intrinsic part of something:

com – together, with

pet / peat – to strive for, look for, make for

ive – by nature, tending to

 

Other words linked through the stem pet / peat are:

appetite – the feeling of longing for or needing something, usually food (the prefix ap is actually ad, meaning to, towards)

 

centripetal – this is the opposite of centrifugal: whereas a centrifugalforce moves objects away from the centre (fugal – fleeing: thinkrefugee, fugitive), if the force is centripetal, objects affected move towards – or make for, look for – the centre

 

competence – originally this meant rivalry, as between two competitors; however, if you are someone’s rival, you are good enough to pose a threat. Our modern meaning of competence, the ability to do something, springs from this idea of being good enough to compete (ence means state, quality, result of an action); the opposite is, of course, incompetence (in – not)

 

impetus – the force or energy that moves something; it literally means an attack (im / in – in, into, towards, at, for); we use a similar idea in the phrase to go for someone

 

impetuous – rash, without thought or plan; literally this means in an attacking manner

 

impetigo – a skin disease causing pustules; in medieval times the name was used generally of any attack on or infection of the skin, but it now is used of this specific infection

 

perpetual – per usually means through, but can also mean thoroughly, or to keep doing something; so if something is perpetual it keeps going, keeps striving to achieve its goal

 

repeat, repetition, repetitive – if you repeat something, you aim for it again (re – again, back)