Usually the origins of the word "addict" are referred to Latin. Once I read somewhere that such word could have greek roots, from "diké", justice, rights. Something like "adiktoi" could mean "those not entitled to rights", therefore slaves. It makes some sense, at least. Where could we find support to trust or to distrust such claims?

  • It has a straightforward Latin etymology, with cognates in present-day Romance language (for example addetto in Italian), so I don't really see the point in trying to find alternative etymologies. For any language, there's probably a word similar enough to this that someone could come up with a made-up etymology for... doesn't mean they should. – LjL Nov 16 '19 at 19:50
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has a trivial etymology that can easily be researched without going for far-fetched hypotheses. – LjL Nov 16 '19 at 19:52

It comes from Latin addico, which means, amongst other things, "to devote", so an addict is someone who is (excessively) devoted to something, from the past participle addictus, "devoted". You can look up the etymology of English words on Etymology Online. Note that the double d could never have come from Greek adikê, nor could the combination -ct.

  • I thought it was pretty obvious that Cerberus means that in this particular case we can't get from /k/ Greek adikê to /kt/ in English addict without some hand-wave-y magic. – limetom Jun 26 '13 at 6:22
  • @hippietrail: As Limetom correctly said, I wrote "[-ct] could never have come from Greek adikê". There are words on -ct, like dialect and cataract, though not many. – Cerberus Jun 26 '13 at 10:59
  • @Cerberus: Oh yes sorry I read that wrong. – hippietrail Jun 26 '13 at 11:42
  • I thank everyone and all kind clarifications. Now I understand that there is no etymological trend reaching greek language. Would then still exist, in classical greek, some word meaning "slave", merging "a" and "diké", describing the slave simply as someone who has been deprived from the access to rights? I just look for some historical tips to characterize "slave" as someone not entitled to ask for the protection granted by the laws. If this could be accomplished by greek history and language, or any other history-language pair, it would be still wonderful for me. Thanks again. – Antonio Jun 27 '13 at 12:53
  • @Antonio: I'm afraid all compounds of a(n)- + dikê mean the opposite of justice, "wrong, unjust, evil", rather than "without rights". All words for slave that I can think of are related to pais "child", domos "house", or doulos "slave" (unknown prior meaning): see Woodhouse. Note also that slaves were not the only Athenians without rights: immigrants, women, and children were not citizens either, i.e. they didn't have civil rights. Only a small minority of people were citizens, maybe 20 %. – Cerberus Jun 27 '13 at 15:53

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