In one of his recent writing pieces, Lucas attempted to use the word existed but spelled it excited in one sentence and then excisted in another. When I asked him to write the word again he wrote <exsist> + <ed> accompanied by “I think it’s related to insist…they both have <sist>.” Dubious, I asked the usual, “What do both words mean?” After discussing both and concluding that there was no connection in meaning (wrongly, I now know), I wrote the spellings <exist> and <existed>. I assumed the base element was <exist>, but Lucas said, “OK, so <-ed> suffix, and possibly an <ex-> prefix, which leaves <ist>. Maybe that’s a connecting vowel <i> and the base <st> ‘to stand‘.” I gave my usual dumbfounded response, “Yeah, maybe,” and then we moved on to the ERB writing assessment, which the students are working on as I write this.
I am now on Etymonline, enlightened once again by the orthographic instincts of Lucas.
Notice “from Latin existere/exsistere.” And furthermore, sistere “cause to stand”, which, of course is related to <insist> as Lucas suspected.
Now I’m wondering, on my own as Lucas and the rest of my word detectives are busy, how to analyze all these words with the element <sist>. If <st> is in fact the two-letter base element meaning “to stand”, how can I account for the <si> in words like <insist> and <assist>?
in + si + st + ence
as + si + st + ed
My present level of understanding allows for the following matrix.