Word of the Day


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Origin of the word

The verb amend, meaning ‘to make changes’, has its origin in the early 13th century when it was used to indicate ‘rectifying’ something, or ‘correcting errors or flaws’. The Latin ’emendare’ had a similar meaning and in the 12th century the Old French verb ‘amender’ had the additional sense of ‘making something better’ or ‘improving’ it.

The ‘mend’ part of the Latin verb, meaning ‘blemish or fault’ comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *mend-, also the source for the Old Irish ‘mennar’ ‘stain or blemish’, Sanskrit ‘minda’ denoting a ‘physical blemish’ and Welsh ‘mann’ meaning ‘mark or sign’.
The addition of an ‘a’ at the beginning of the word is unusual. However, it seems to date from the early stages of development of the English language and is also found in Italian and Provençal. In English, the verb mend has supplanted it in the senses of ‘cure or fix’ and amend has come to mean ‘making changes to a document’. The meaning ‘to add to legislation’ dates from 1777.

Related words: amended, amending, amender, amendable, amends, amendment


When a document, for example a piece of legislation, is amended, changes are made to the original:

“The amended Bill will return to the Commons, in a procedure known as ‘ping-pong’. MPs will vote to scrap the amendment and return it to the House of Lords. Monday 13 March and Tuesday 14 March have been set aside for MPs to vote down any Lords amendments. Peers have made clear that they are unlikely to fight further if MPs vote down their amendments, Baroness Smith the Labour Leader of the Lords said.”
Telegraph. 1 March 2017: What happens now peers have voted to amend the Brexit Bill?

After revisions have been made, the new version of a document can be known as the amended version:

“The Department for Education have their own strict guidance for schools. Last July they issued their amended document as a final draft.” Guardian. 17 June 2017: Revealed: the tower block fire warnings that ministers ignored.


1. to make changes to a document, law, agreement etc, especially in order to improve it

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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