Submitted by goossun  •  May 10, 2004

Be-martyred

Can one say “Bemartyred”? I am translating the name of an ancient Mesopotamian myth who is sacrificed for growth and rebirth of nature and in there was ceremny in which he was annually killed or “martyred”. I have once seen the word, “Beknighted” and though it could be made so for martyr as well if it doesn’t already exist.

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sorry I miss spelled, I meant "Benighted".

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Goossun, "martyred" is sufficient in this case.

The use of "be-" as a prefix is obsolete--though many words that use it (bedaubed, besprinkled, etc.) still survive. In most cases the word also exists without the "be-" prefix, so it's also correct in the two cases just mentioned to say "daubed" or "sprinkled." For example:

"The child's smock was bedaubed (or daubed)with finger paints."
"The cupcakes were besprinkled (or sprinkled) with colored sugar."

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Being obsolete is actually helpfulin this case, I think. It gives a hint of the ansient and archaic taste as the word has it originaly. But I must make sure if using "be-" is not wrong. If so, "bemartyred" sounds better to me.

*Yet I think there are some cases that you can't just drop the "be-" like "besieged", am I not right?

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Yes, that's right... "benighted," "besieged," "bewitched," and "belabored" are all examples of words that you can't remove the "be-" prefix from.

But the "be-" prefix is no longer used, except facetiously (just for fun).

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I'm not making myself clear. What I mean is that in modern times words are no longer formed by adding "be-" to them.

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I'm sorry speedwell, but I just don't get when this "modern times" are! You agree that the words mention "below" are still used, so what does "in modern times words are no longer formed by adding "be-" to them" mean?
Do you mean we do not make new ones?
BBC has just one today; "Beheaded": http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3705409.stm
They could as well say "decapitated", right?

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By the way, could you give some example of the facetious use of "be-"?

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Boy, I am doing badly on this, aren't I.

"Beheaded" is another word that is a survival from the time when "be-" was commonly used as a prefix. We don't make words in this way anymore, but we still use the ones that exist.

Facetious? OK... well... last week my partner's little niece got into the cupboard somehow and pulled a box of cocoa over herself, then tried to lick most of it off. (True story.) When her mother found her, she was pretty well "bechocolated."

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In to my surprise I found this word that we use every day: Become!

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