3

impute (v.):
early 15c., from Old French imputer (14c.)
and directly from Latin imputare "to reckon, make account of, charge, ascribe,"
from assimilated form of in- "in, into" (see in- (2)) +
putare "reckon, clear up, trim, prune, settle" from PIE *puto- "cut, struck," suffixed form of root *pau- (2) "to cut, strike, stamp" (see pave).

Wiktionary:  

Etymology[:]    From in- +‎ putō ‎(“esteem, consider”).

  1. I reckon, charge, enter into the account.
  2. (figuratively) I attribute, credit to; I impute

This answer on Linguistics SE helpfully expounds the Semantic Field of putare.

  1. What are the semantic meaning and role of the prefix 'in-' in imputare?

  2. Please see the titled question.
    How did in- augment the semantic field of putare, to enable the semantic shift from 1 to 2?
    What semantic notions underlie 1 and 2?

  3. 2 overhead contains 'to' in 'attribute, credit to'. So shouldn't ad- have been the prefix? I'm assuming that in- can't signify 'to'.

2
+50

What are the semantic meaning and role of the prefix 'in-' in imputare?

In- literally means "towards", whilst puto is to reckon, and even calculate, compute. This results in "ascribing someone", "regarding someone to be the cause of something".

How did in- augment the semantic field of putare, to enable the semantic shift from 1 to 2? What semantic notions underlie 1 and 2?

The reason for the semantic shift from 1 to 2 should not be ascribed (XD) to the in- prefix, but instead to the meaning of the verb imputare itself, and to its usage. Though this word were mainly and firstly used in jurisprudence and finance, its usage was soon extended to moral and ethics. One can impute, assign something to someone concretely, but even figuratively assign to him a value or a disvalue (i.e. a crime).

2 overhead contains 'to' in 'attribute, credit to'. So shouldn't ad- have been the prefix? I'm assuming that in- can't signify 'to'

In- can signify to, towards, and it is even more direct than ad. In general, we say in if we know the exact destination of our action, we say ad to mean in the direction of, around the way to.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.