Origin of transfer
OTHER WORDS FROM transfer
Words nearby transfer
MORE ABOUT TRANSFER
Where does transfer come from?
Transfer is an excellent example of how a little knowledge of Latin can go a long way.
Transfer entered English around 1350–40. It ultimately derives from the Latin verb trānsferre, which principally meant “to carry or bring across.” The verb is composed of two parts. The first part is trāns-, a prefix based on the adverb and preposition trāns, meaning “across, beyond, through.” The second part is ferre, a verb meaning “to bear, carry,” among many other senses. The English verb bear, as in “bearing a load,” is actually an etymological cousin to the Latin ferre.
Trāns- and ferre appear in many other English words. Let’s start with ferre. Prefer comes from the Latin praeferre, “to bear or set before” (learn more at pre–, preference). Refer comes from the Latin referre, “to bring back” (re–, reference). Infer comes from inferre, “to bring in” (in–, inference). This next origin may put a new spin on the word for you: suffer comes from sufferre, literally “to bear under,” with suf- a variant of sub- “under.” Defer and deference ultimately comes from—slight curveball here—differre, “to bear apart, carry away.” Differre is also the source of differ, different, and difference.
Now for trāns-. Trāns– was incredibly productive in Latin. That means it was used to produce many new words, especially verbs (and their related forms) that have made their way into English, including:
Does knowing that trāns- means “across, beyond, through” shed any new light on what these words mean?
Some other common words directly derived from Latin and featuring trāns- are transit, translucent, and transparent.
Trāns-, naturalized as trans–, is also very productive in English. Some familiar examples include transconintental, trans-fat, and transgender.
Translate is another word related to transfer—and not just because they both feature the trans- prefix.
Now, English has irregular verbs: saw is the past tense of see, for instance, and bought is the past tense of buy. Latin had irregular verbs, too, as do many other languages. Without getting too technical, the verb ferre (meaning, if you’ll recall, “to carry”) formed past tenses based on tulī (“I carried”), and formed part participles based on lātus. That means translate is derived from the past participle form of transfer: trānslātus, literally “carried across,” as in a text that has been copied over.
Isn’t it wild how so many words are related? Yep, relate—along with relationship, relation, and many other words—comes from the past participle form of referre (“to carry back,” source of refer), which was relātus.
Did you know ... ?
We are not done with Latin verb ferre (“to bear, carry”) yet! The verb is also the source of –fer, a combining form meaning “that which carries” the thing specified by the initial element, used in the formation of compound words—like an aquifer carries water (the Latin aqua means “water”). Other familiar examples include conifer and crucifer.
The form -fer is closely related to -ferous, a combining form meaning “bearing,” “producing,” “yielding,” “containing,” and “conveying,” also used in the formation of compound words, especially in science. There are many examples, including:
How to use transfer in a sentence
An economist might say, “Well, we should be using fiscal instruments — taxes, transfers — to redistribute.”Does Anyone Really Know What Socialism Is? (Ep. 408 Rebroadcast)|Stephen J. Dubner|September 17, 2020|Freakonomics
If nothing is done to reverse this massive wealth transfer, we risk losing our independent businesses for good.How we can save small business from coronavirus-induced extinction|matthewheimer|September 10, 2020|Fortune
Bayern Munich and Spain midfielder Thiago Alcántara has been linked with a move to Merseyside, while Georginio Wijnaldum has been linked with a move away from Liverpool to Barcelona, but neither transfer has come to pass yet.Will Liverpool Run Away With The Premier League Again, Or Can Manchester City Take The Title Back?|Terrence Doyle|September 10, 2020|FiveThirtyEight
The same problem applies whatever legal mechanism companies are using for those transfers.Time is running out for Big Tech’s monetization of Europeans’ personal data|David Meyer|September 10, 2020|Fortune
Electric vehicles wouldn’t be possible without cobalt, a mineral used in rechargeable batteries to store and transfer power.Can Tesla help solve one of the thorniest ethical problems with electric vehicles?|Tim McDonnell|September 10, 2020|Quartz
Parents who want to transfer custody of a child to someone other than a relative must seek permission from a judge.Judge: Rehoming Kids Is Trafficking|Tina Traster|December 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
“I ran for my life,” said Tenayo, who is a home attendant for an autistic resident, but wants to transfer because of the crime.Anger at The Cop Killer - And The Police|M.L. Nestel|December 21, 2014|DAILY BEAST
He suggested I needed mental help, and offered to help me transfer to another college.I Was Gang Raped at a UVA Frat 30 Years Ago, and No One Did Anything|Liz Seccuro|December 16, 2014|DAILY BEAST
All the junkies try to transfer to them, for the abundance of morphine.A Million Ways to Die in Prison|Daniel Genis|December 8, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Jasmin helps her transfer in and out of her wheelchair, get dressed, and bathe.Care Providers Fight for $15 and a Union|Jasmin Almodovar, Shirley Thompson|December 5, 2014|DAILY BEAST
He, Bastien-Lepage, painter of the soil, found himself unable to transfer to canvas the enchantment of that land of fairy tale!Bastien Lepage|Fr. Crastre
Giles; aluminium and its bronze in 1864; the transfer process in 1856 by Tearne and Richmond.Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham|Thomas T. Harman and Walter Showell
It is immaterial to whom the transfer is made if the purpose be to prefer one creditor to another.
Another act of bankruptcy is to convey, transfer, conceal or remove property with the intention to defraud creditors.
As additional methods facilitating in some cases the transfer of stops must be named the "double touch" and the "pizzicato touch."The Recent Revolution in Organ Building|George Laing Miller
British Dictionary definitions for transfer
- a person or thing that transfers or is transferred
- (as modifier)a transfer student
- the act of transferring the title of ownership to shares or registered bonds in the books of the issuing enterprise
- (as modifier)transfer deed; transfer form