have existed side-by-side since the former entered the English language in the 1800s (erupt
had been a part of the language for over two centuries at that point). Both are descendants of the Latin verb rumpere
, which means "to break," but irrupt
has affixed to it the prefix ir-
(in the sense "into") while erupt
begins with the prefix e-
(meaning "out"). So "to irrupt" was
originally to rush in, and "to
erupt" was to burst out. But it's sometimes hard to distinguish the
precise direction of a violent rush, and irrupt
came to be used as a synonym of erupt
in the senses "to become active or violent especially suddenly" and "to break forth."
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