In both French and English, the word for become (devenir) includes the word for come (venir), even though the etymologies and words are very different. Why might this be?

1 Answer 1


In Old English “becomen” actually means “come, arrive”. It takes on the meaning “come to be” in Middle English (the OED has references for this meaning from about the end of the 12th century onwards). It is possible that this shift in meaning was at least influenced by French devenir.

  • This seems similar to some of the uses of Spanish llegar 'arrive'; it gets used in many inchoative constructions. English also has the inchoative construction come to be = become, with almost identical syntax, as well as the various inchoative uses of get for both be and have; i.e, get means either come to be or come to have, which is why American English uses got to mean possessive have -- Got a match?
    – jlawler
    May 4, 2015 at 16:00

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