Better Cunctation than Cessation

What’s the first thing you thought of when you saw that first C word? Whatever first may have come to mind is almost certainly not what it means. Rather, it’s a word for the opposite of timeliness, the flipside of punctuality. To be a cunctater simply means to be one who is tardy. Cunctation is the noun form. Like so many of our English words, the origin of cunctation is Latin, the base word being cunctation, meaning “a hesitation.”

Being delayed or tardy may be regarded as annoying, especially for one who is used to being on time, or preferably, early, it is better than never starting, never showing up, or never accomplishing. Even worse might be starting a journey, destination clearly in mind, getting life-swipe sidetracked—with all intention on retracing the path—but never returning, cessation.

Although cessation does not always mean to end, its alternative meanings, discontinuance and complete stopping, are the most common definitions. Cessation traces back to Middle English cessacio, with a Latin base, cessation, stoppage, delay, inactivity. Another closely connected Latin word is cessare, meaning “to be idle.”

She who hesitates may get lost, but it’s better to be a cunctater than a cessator.