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What is the origin of the word 'stepchild'?


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Answered 2007-09-08 23:28:14

Step-

Old English. steop-, with connotations of "loss," in combinations like steopcild "orphan," related to astiepan, bestiepan "to bereave, to deprive of parents or children," from P.Gmc. *steupa- "bereft" (cf. O.Fris. stiap-, O.N. stjup-, Swed. styv-, M.L.G. stef-, Du. stief-, O.H.G. stiof-, Ger. stief-), lit. "pushed out," from PIE *steup-, from base *(s)teu- (see steep (adj.)). Etymologically, a stepfather or stepmother is one who becomes father or mother to an orphan, but the notion of orphanage faded in 20c. For sense evolution, cf. L. privignus "stepson," related to privus "deprived."

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You do not generally hyphenate the word stepchild, because it is not a hyphenated word. If the question is where to hyphenate stepchild if you have to break it across two lines, it is not difficult to determine this, because the two syllables are actually separate words: step and child. If you have to hyphenate the word to break it, you would put step- on one line and child on the next. If the word is all on one line, you do not hyphenate it.


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