02 Sep 2001
Now jonvw has called into question my discussion of the overt/covert pair, so I did a little research to try to back up my claim. I asked Robert Rankin, a romanticist and philologist, for his thoughts. He agrees with Jonathan:
‘Covert’ would certainly seem to be from French ‘couvert(e)’ and should be Latin ‘copertus’ ‘covered’ all right. ‘Overt’ is also from Fr. ‘ouvert(e)’ ‘open’ and ultimately Latin, but I don’t know the Latin noun off the top of my head. The root would be related to English ‘aperture’, a Latin borrowing.
Finally, this passage from Historical Linguistics by R.L. Trask corroborates my claim:
Similarly, the word overt is borrowed from French ouvert ‘open’, and has final stress. The word covert, though, is in origin merely a variant of covered, and was formerly pronounced accordingly. But the frequent use of those two words as opposites has resulted in an alteration of the second: most people now pronounce covert to rhyme with overt.