May 19, 2012
desist (verb)
\dih-SIST\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to stop something one is doing
How do you use it?
"Three things I wanted exceedingly for this work . . . a pickaxe, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow or basket; so I desisted from my work, and began to consider how to supply that want, and make me some tools." (Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe)
Are you a word wiz?

Poor Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked on an island by himself! In describing how he stopped work to give his tools some thought, which of the following words could he have used instead of "desist"?

Both "desist" and "cease" mean to stop. "Desist" usually suggests that someone is stopping something that takes patience or restraint to stop doing, as in "Please desist from picking on your little cousin!" "Cease" is used in a lot of contexts, but it may be used especially when something has been stopping gradually and is finally done, as in "By nightfall the snow had ceased." "Quit" is another word that means to stop. It can stress either that something has finally stopped or that it has suddenly stopped, as in "The car's engine faltered, sputtered, and then quit altogether."
Archive RSS Feed