American Languages, and Why We Should Study Them
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