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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 31, 2006 is:
prescind \pri-SIND\ verb
1 : intransitive verb : to withdraw one's attention
2 : transitive verb : to detach for purposes of thought
If we prescind from the main issue for a moment, there is much to be gained by studying some corollary questions.
Did you know?
"Prescind" derives from the Latin verb "praescindere," which means "to cut off in front." "Praescindere," in turn, was formed by combining "prae-" ("before") and "scindere" ("to cut" or "to split"). So it should come as no surprise that when "prescind" began being used during the 17th century, it referred to "cutting off" one's attention from a subject. An earlier (now archaic) sense was even clearer about the etymological origins of the word, with the meaning "to cut short, off, or away" or "to sever." Other descendants of "scindere" include "rescind" and the rare "scissile" ("capable of being cut").
*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.