Posted by: episystechpubs | September 6, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Sans

Someone asked me for a little more information and background on the French word sans, meaning without. First, she wanted to know if there was an opposite of sans, which I would say is avec (with). However, I think perhaps she was trying to get to something deeper.

Here are a few definitions and etymologies I found in the Online Etymology Dictionary.

· sans (adverb)

early 14c., from French sans, Old French sen, sens (with adverbial genitive) "without, except, apart, not counting," cognate with Provençal senes, Old Catalan senes, Old Spanish sen (Spanish sin), Old Italian sen, from Vulgar Latin *sene, from Latin sine "without," enlarged form of sed, se "without," from PIE root *sen(e)- "apart, separated" (see sunder). In reference to fonts, 1927, short for sans-serif.

· sans-culotte (n.)

also sansculotte, "lower-class republican of the French Revolution," 1790, from French, literally "without breeches;" see sans + culottes. Usually explained as referring to the class whose distinctive costume was pantalons (long trousers) as opposed to the upper classes, which wore culottes (knee-breeches), but this is not certain. Related: Sans-culottes; sans-culotterie.

· sans-serif(adjective)

also sanserif, 1830, from French sans "without" + English serif, from earlier ceref, perhaps from Dutch schreef "a line, a stroke," related to schrijven "to write," from Latin scribere (see script (n.)).

· sans souci (adv.)

"without care or concern," French. Name of Frederick the Great’s royal palace at Potsdam.

Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Germany

Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Germany

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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