-port- (etymology)

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Several English words include the element -port-, even discounting such elements as portion, which comes from proportione, in itself probably formed from prō ratiōne, 'in the ratio'; and portray, with the related noun portrait, which come from French por (modern pour), Latin pro, and traire, 'to draw'. Most come from originals with the four letters -port- as a unit.. These can confuse non-native learners at times, and their history may be interesting to native speakers; so some notes are given here. They come in essence from three Latin roots, two linked.

  • Portāre means 'to carry, bring' (cf French porter), and is the most productive root. (In Latin, the irregular verb fero, ferre, tuli, latum was more often used for this meaning, and there are cognates in many languages: Greek φέρω, phero (also an irregular verb , φέρω, ἐνήνοχᾰ, ἐνήνεγμαι), root of the name Christopher, derived from the legend of a man who carried the Christ-child on his shoulder - Christo-phoros, 'Christ-bearing'); and Sanskrit vhri.
  • Porta means a 'door, gate[way]', French la porte. This gives us such simple words as 'portal' and 'portico' (and its more 'native' form 'porch'), 'portal'. It shares its derivation (por) with the following:
  • portus, a 'harbour, haven or port', is derived from an older root por or par, meaning 'to pierce': the basic meaning of each is 'entry', 'gap' (in a wall, or a coast). The word influenced the name of a Roman god Portunus (earlier Portumnes, Portunes, the god of locks and keys, i.e. of doors - portas), to whom one could pray. In his later form, he might give fortunate or unfortunate weather to sailors approaching harbour.

word derivation (Latin unless stated) meaning meaning explained Notes
airport portus safe landing area for aircraft by extension from port (n. 1)
carport portus shelter for a car, opening into a house 1) 'opening (in house)';
2) 'haven' for a car
earliest recorded 1939
colporteur porter (French) itinerant vendor of papers or books (esp. Bibles) col = 'neck'
comport (vb) portāre to bear oneself cum, 'with' is often reflexive The noun is obsolete
comportment (n) portāre behaviour, bearing obsolete; "rare" - OED. Deportment is better
deport (vb (1)) portāre to send [a person] abroad; to banish de- as 'off' or 'away' Associated n. deportation
deport (vb (2)) portāre to bear oneself, behave de- as 'formally', 'completely', 'thoroughly' Obs. Comport now a better verb
assoc. n. deportment
deportment portāre behaviour, bearing Mostly with regard to physical stance
desport portāre older form of disport
disport portāre to cease working, relax,
to amuse or divert oneself
Lat. dis- 'away from', 'different from' Obsolete. Modern aphetic sport
'to unburden oneself', 'lay down one's burden'
entry port porta opening to a ship for entry etc. On upper deck, a 'gate' in the railing;
to lower decks, a 'door' in ship's side
export (vb. & n.) portāre [to] trade abroad ex- 'from' See Import (meaning).
gunport porta Opening to shoot through a 'porthole' for a gun historical. Since 2oth cent., guns have been mounted in turrets.
heliport portus small 'airport' for helicopters by extension from port (n. 1)
import (vb. & n.) portāre inward trade im- (in-) as 'inwards' See Import (meaning).
important portāre, via Import (meaning) 'having weight',
'bearing upon'
im- as 'on' See Import (meaning).
importune portus, via Portunus a) 'to ask or beg in an insistent manner';
b) 'to pester';
c) 'to solicit as a prostitute'
a) may be how Romans "in peril on the deep" cried to their god, giving rise to b);
c) is a criminal offence in the UK
importunate portus, via Portunus 'in an insistent manner' as above The n. is importunity.
importuning portus, via Portunus solicitation, as a prostitute a criminal offence in the UK
opportune ob- + portus, via Portunus appropriate, lucky; 'well-timed' ob- 'in the direction of'; Portunus, Roman god of ports So, fortunate and fitting
opportunity portus, via Portunus a favourable or lucky occasion to do something The god Portunus gives good luck
port (n. 1) portus a harbour or haven; port Element in some place names,e.g.
Portsmouth, entry to [natural] harbour
port (n. 2) portus an opening a) Used in ships for openings in sides.
Cf gunport, entry port, etc
openings in computers, etc, to receive connections
port (n. 3) Porto (Portuguese) Type of (fortified) wine Traded from the town called Oporto in English The town is Porto in its own language
port (adj.) portus OR porta 'left-hand'; from haven, harbour See port - starboard
port (vb. 1) portāre to carry (obs.) Used for military drill - to port arms is to hold rifle diagonally in front of body
port (vb. 2) portāre to transfer software from one computer to another
portable portāre [small enough to be able to be carried easily Also (of software) transferable between one computer and another (cf port vb. 2) |
portage portāre via porter (French) the carrying of a canoe etc across land
e.g. between rivers or past obstacles in the water
term from European exploration of N. America
portcullis porta,
via porte (French)
vertically sliding 'gate'
usually an iron grill
porta in grooves (coulisses, from French vb. couler 'to flow'.
porter 1) portare
2) porta
1) one who carries things for hire;
2) one who guards a door, 'door-keeper'
Porters at Oxbridge Colleges are doorkeepers (prestigious), as opposed to
porters at railway stations, who are little respected
porter (2) indirectly portāre a dark kind of beer named because it was a favourite refreshment among street porters - porters' ale
porthole portus ship's 'window', usually circular
portmanteau portāre via French porter type of suitcase for carrying a manteau (French, = mantle, cloak or coat See also portmanteau word for a fig. use.
purport (n.) portāre the meaning orig. Lat. proportāre', classically praeportāre:
'to carry in front'
purport vb. portāre to seem to mean;
to claim or pretend to be
The verb has a stronger connotation of doubt than the noun
rapport (n.) rapporter (French vb. a good relationship; mutual understanding or sympathy See also rapport (pronunciation)
rapport (vb.) portāre ['to report'] Obsolete spelling of report
rapporteur portāre, via French rapporter, rapport person who gives an official account of an official committee or working party May be a form of Minutes Secretary, or, more prestigiously, the representative of some high body. e.g. the UN
report portāre to give an account of 'to bring back (Lat. re-)
reporter portāre one who brings back an account specifically, one employed to communicate news
seaport portus a port (n. 1);
a harbour
used since 1600 in Scotland, later further south. More necessary since airport
sport portāre organised form of competitive exercise relaxation; recreation; game
as noun and verb
aphetic for disport |
support portāre' to hold up; sub 'under' + portāre = 'to bear up (carry) from below Both lit. & fig. |
teleport portāre 'to beam matter across space' Greek tele- (τηλε-) '[from] afar' Term invented in Science Fiction
transport portāre 1) 'to carry'
See also transport (meaning)
trans- 'across' See a note on the pronunciation