IATE Term of the Week: De-confinement


One of the amazing traits of words is the way they emerge more or less powerful according to their surrounding reality. Each word is a vibration of our reality in terms of being an indication of the way people experience their reality as well as of the thoughts which dominate their present life. A recent vibration of our present is the word “de-confinement”. People smile when listening to it and faces lighten up since meeting others, shopping and walks can be experienced in a much less fearful feeling. De-confinement is here making us happy and feeling proud of the efficiency of our precaution measures taken up to this moment.

Has de-confinement always had this power of making us happy?

Apparently not. Looking in a dictionary what we find is the definition of de-confinement as a concept in Physics. De-confinement is the word – created by adding the prefix de- which is very common in the creation of antonyms  – which conceptualizes the concept of that state of a system of quarks and gluons that are free to move around relatively independent.  But it is the present reality of the recent Quarantine period experienced which gave extra power to the word de-confinement and its literal meaning of setting free and demolishing any kind of restrictions / limitations.

Etymologically, it is highly interesting to see how confinement came to mean restriction and limitation. Confinement takes us back to the Latin words *con- meaning “together” and *finis-, a third declension Latin noun of male gender, meaning *end-, or*limit- . The plural form of the latin noun *finis which is *fines – means “territory”. So, confinement was the word created to define the concept of “bordering”: *con- and *finis-. The initial Latin form was *confinis (*limit together in the sense of *common limit so *bordering) which entered the late Middle French as *confins and then the Middle English as a verb form *confine in 1520s meaning “to border on, to have a common boundary”.

deconfinement iate
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Gradually throughout times, *Confine started acquiring the concept of *keep someone or something within limits. Therefore, the derivative noun confinement was identified with the meaning of imposed limitation, restriction, being kept within limits.

The threat of a dangerous virus outbreak like COVID-19 brought confinement as the lifeline to remind people that each negatively charged word can automatically turn into a positive energy sign as long as they decide to look at it positively. Confinement was not desirable but was respected as a mentality of life. The good news though is that the miracle of the flow of the words into our life brought the antonym de-confinement to shed light at the end of the dark tunnel into which the quarantine had placed us.



Online Cambridge Dictionary. 2020. Meaning of Confinement in English by Online Cambridge Dictionary [ONLINE] Available at:  https: // dictionary. cambridge. org / dictionary/english/ confinement [Accessed 18 May 2020].

Online Dictionary. 2020. Meaning of Deconfinement in English by Online Dictionary [ONLINE] Available at:  https://www.yourdictionary.com/deconfinement [Accessed 18 May 2020].

Online Etymology Dictionary. 2020. Confine, Origin and meaning of the word Confine by Online Etymology Dictionary. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.etymonline.com/word/confine [Accessed 18 May 2020].

Maria Papamargariti pictureWritten by Maria Papamargariti, Greek and English Philologist, writer in the field of children’s literature.