verb tithed tithed
a. A tenth part of one's annual income contributed voluntarily or due as a tax, especially for the support of the clergy or church.
b. The institution or obligation of paying tithes.
- A tax or assessment of one tenth.
a. A tenth part.
b. A very small part.
, tithes verb, transitive
- To contribute or pay a tenth part of (one's annual income).
- To levy a tithe on.
To pay a tithe.
Origin: Middle English
Origin: , from Old English tēotha; see dekm̥ in Indo-European roots
- tithˈa·ble (tīˈÞə-bəl) adjective
A tithe is a tenth, etymologically speaking; in fact, tithe
is the old ordinal numeral in English. Sound changes in the prehistory of English are responsible for its looking so different from the word ten. Tithe
goes back to a prehistoric West Germanic form *tehuntha-,
formed from the cardinal numeral *tehun,
“ten,” and the same ordinal suffix that survives in Modern English as -th.
disappeared before the th
in the West Germanic dialect area that gave rise to English, and eventually yielded the Old English form tēothe,
“tenth,” still not too different from the cardinal numeral tīen.
But over time, as the former became tithe
and the latter ten,
and as tithe
developed the specialized meaning “a tenth part paid as a tax,” it grew harder to perceive a relationship between the two. The result was that speakers of English created a new word for the ordinal, tenth,
built with the cardinal numeral ten
on the pattern of the other regularly-formed ordinal numerals like sixth