has something in common with yawn
. Today, yawn
implies sleep or boredom, but years ago it could also signify longing
or desire ("Full many men know I that yawn and gape after some fat and
rich benefice" —Thomas
Hoccleve, 1420). The Old French word for "yawn"
, which joined the prefix a
- ("in a state or condition of") to form abaer
, a verb meaning "to expect" or "await." There followed Anglo-French abeyance
which referred to a state of expectation—specifically, a person's
expectation of inheriting a title or property. But when we adopted abeyance
into English in the 16th century, we applied the expectation to the
property itself: a property or title "in abeyance" is in temporary
limbo, waiting to be claimed by a rightful heir or owner.
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