commit

Definitions

General English

  • verb to promise, or make someone promise, something or to do something

Commerce

  • verb to carry out a crime
  • verb to agree to do something

Law

Medical

  • verb to arrange legally for someone to enter a mental health facility, perhaps without the person’s consent

Politics

  • verb to send a bill to a parliamentary committee to be reviewed

Origin & History of “commit”

Etymologically, commit simply means ‘put together’. It comes from Latin committere, a compound verb formed from the prefix com- ‘together’ and the verb mittere ‘put, send’ (whence English missile and mission). It originally meant literally ‘join, connect’, but then branched out along the lines of ‘put for safety, entrust’ (the force of com- here being more intensive than collective) and ‘perpetrate’ (exactly how this sense evolved is not clear). The whole range of meanings followed the Latin verb into English, although ‘put together’ was never more than an archaism, and died out in the 17th century. Of derivatives based on the Latin verb’s past participial stem commiss-, commission entered English in the 14th century and commissionaire (via French) in the 18th century. Medieval Latin commissārius produced English commissary (14th c.) and, via French, Russian commissar, borrowed into English in the 20th century.
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