an active animate verb, and means "I beat, or strike, somebody." To the rude minds of the framers of that tongue, ownership meant the right to beat what one owned.
We might hope this sense was confined to the lower animals; but not so. Change the accent from the first to the second syllable, ni´hillan, to nihil´lan, and you have the animate active verb with an intensive force, which signifies "to beat to death," "to kill some person;" and from this, by another suffix, you have nihil´lowen, to murder, and nihil´lowet, murderer. The bad sense of the root is here pushed to its uttermost.
But the root also developed in a nobler direction. Add to ni´hillan the termination ape, which means a male, and you have nihillape, literally, "I, it is true, a man," which, as an adjective, means free, independent, one's own master, "I am my own man." From this are derived the noun, nihillapewit, a freeman; the v
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