A fun look at the German prefix verb "ablaufen" and how it connects a sink, a conference and old milk.
ablaufen, abgelaufen, der Ablauf, der
The core idea of this root was
And based on that, it took on a figurative sense of discriminating, distinguishing.
There aren’t many German offspring but English has quite a few of them.
The most important branch is the one around the Latin cernere which was about separating, sifting, distinguishing.
Here’s a little overview over words in that branch:
- discern (“separate”)
- concern (“mix together, gathering together”)
- secret, secretary (“separate away”)
- excrete (“separate out”)
- discreet (“separated off”)
- discriminate (“separate off”)
And there are other surprising members as well, like these (and more):
- critic, criterion (“passing judgements, discernments”)
- certain (“distinguished with certainty”)
- ascertain (“make certain”)
- crisis (Originally in Greek: “moment of selection/judgement”)