Words

emergency, n.
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The Independent Culture
WHO PUT the urgency into emergency? The suffixes -ence and -ency (or -ance and -ancy) are usually interchangeable. It makes little difference whether we say brilliance or brilliancy, prurience or prurience, effulgence or effulgency. An emergency ought to be no different from any other emergence. Yet it has assumed an aspect of crisis.

Both emergence and emergency were originally used in the literal sense of anything that turns up or emerges. In the 17th century, they both also had the specific meaning of the rising of a submerged body above the surface of the water. Around the mid-18th century, they diverged. An emergence may be worth commenting on, but an emergency demands attention. A useful distinction, especially in an emergency.

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