French word meaning (roughly) of, or from. Often found in formal titles of nobility, such as Samuel de Champlain. Apparently, after the French Revolution, many noble families dropped the ``de''.

The ISO two-letter codes for Germany (DE) and for the German language (de), and hence the German top level domain (.de).

Latin preposition meaning "from", "out of", (taking the ablative case to indicate movement) or "about" (taking the genitive case, as in the titles of many philophical works (De rerum natura, and so on). This developed into the preposition de or di, with largely the same meanings plus the "of" of possession in the later romance languages (replacing the use of the genitive case in Latin).


The definite article in Dutch for all plurals and singular forms in the "common" gender (the fused masculine and feminine forms; "het" is used for neuter singulars). Thus a common particle in surnames in Belgium (where it mingles with the French "from" de as well) and the Netherlands. When the first item in a surname and preceded by the forename, sometimes written with a lowercase letter (i.e. you write "Dhr. De Smet" but "Jan de Smet" - this is supposedly an indicator of noble ancestry and it may be a social faux pas to capitalize unnecessarily; the other way round is unlikely to cause problems). In Belgium, years of dominance by francophones and sundry spelling reforms mean that such names have often been concatenated in any case ("Jan Desmet").

Dutch no longer has case inflections for the definite article (as German does) in normal use, but the old inflected versions 's (= des, genitive) den or ten, (masculine dative) and der or ter (feminine dative or genitive) survive in fossilized collocations and place and personal names: , 's Hertogenbosch, Vandenbroucke (= van den broek), ten behoeve van ("as regards ...").


US Navy pennant number prefix for an escort destroyer.
A word which ought to be a stopword in the E2 search engine, but isn't as yet.

In most French surnames, "de" does not indicate nobility and is just a part of the name. In a minority of names, however, it indicates noble origin. Originally, this kind of name indicated what fief the holder was associated with; for example, Godefroy de Bouillon was either lord of Bouillon or directly related to such a lord. If a nobleman had a title, for example baron de Montmorency, the holder's children would all be described as de Montmorency.

Later things began to get more complicated, as nobles accumulated titles. For example, a fictitious nobleman, Hugues de Montreuil, is given a duchy by the king, and becomes Hugues de Montreuil, duc de Ploërmel. His son would be known as Jean de Montreuil de Ploërmel, or more simply, Jean de Montreuil-Ploërmel. To complicate things further, Hugues would probably have other titles besides the duchy which his sons would use. If Hugues de Montrueil were duc de Ploërmel and also comte de Sainte-Cécile, then his eldest son Jean de Montreuil de Ploërmel would probably be known in society as M. de Sainte-Cécile.

Normally, a nobleman who had a family name "de" somewhere, and a title "de" somewhere, used the title socially, but signed documents with the family name. Thus, Roger de Rabutin, comte de Bussy, would have been addressed as "monsieur de Bussy," but would have signed "Roger de Rabutin." A woman was known by her husband's name or title, but legally speaking, kept her maiden name. These rules were nevertheless not universally followed. Al this is further complicated by which name these people are known to posterity; our comte de Bussy is known in the history of French literature as Bussy-Rabutin.

Later, having "de" in the name bespoke nobility, and many nobles and non-nobles added "de" before their surnames, even if their name was not associated with a fief.

The word "de" is used in the Chinese language for three different particles. They are written with three different characters, but are all pronounced that same way. These words are some of the most common and most useful words in the Chinese language, and the first "de" is probably used more then any other word in Chinese.

The three words are all part of the vernacular Chinese, a style of Chinese dating back to perhaps the Yuan Dynasty (around the 13th century), and for many years widely considered to be somewhat low class, although many great works of literature were written in the vernacular. Thus, for many years, serious academic scholars looked down upon the usage of "de" and its exact usage was never quite made clear. In addition, about 10 different characters were used to write it. The closest analogy to English would be if scholars who wrote all their papers in Latin had never bothered to describe the grammatical difference between "s" for a possessive and "s" for a plural, and sometimes used different letters to define the same sound. However, with the advent of the baihua movement this century, which made vernacular Chinese the language of academics and literature, the seperate meanings of "de" and the different characters for each were standardized.

The first "de" is used as a possessive, and to link adjectives to nouns, and by extension, to change adjectives into nouns. This word is the most common, and most helpful of the three. The simplest usage of it is in parallel to English possessive "s", in such sentences as Zhe shi ta mama de shu, "This is his mother's book" or Zhe shi wo de che, "this is my car". However, even with this simple usage, it is not always straightforward, since unlike the possessive, this particle is not always required. Especially in phrases where the connection is assumed, the possessive "de" is not needed. For example, it is not neccesary to say wo de baba "my father", because the connection is apparent. However, it would be neccesary (probably) to say wo de daifu "my doctor". However, this "De" is not used merely as a possessive. It is also used more broadly to link adjectives or descriptive phrases to nouns. For example, hong de pingguo would mean "red apples". Of course, this phrase would not often be used, since hong pingguo suffices. However, a phrase such as zuo gonggongqiche kan shu ren "riding the bus reading book people" could better be parsed by adding the "de" and turning it into zuo gonggongqiche kan shu de ren, which seperates the adjective phrase from the noun it modifies. By further extension of this, "de" can be used to transform adjectives into nouns. For example bai de dongxi would mean "white things". However, the noun can be removed, leaving only the adjective and the "de", with the fact that it is pointing at some noun implied. This is actually a good technique for people learning Chinese, who have a limited vocabulary: simply refer to something by its color and add the "de".

The second "de" is used to modify verbs. It describes the degree or manner in which that verb is performed. For example, chi de hen man means "eat very slowly"; and pao de kuai means "run very fast". These are short examples, the phrase put after the "de" to describe how the verb is being performed can be quite long, such as ta xing de tai chidao, ta bu shang zao gonggongqiche, jiu bu keneng shang ke , "he woke up so late, he didn't catch the early bus and couldn't attent class", with everything after the "de" being used to describe exactly how he woke. The second "de" is also used in verbal compliments, set phrases that describe whether a verb reached its expected conclusion. For example, in Chinese, it might be said a door was kai de kai, "opened to the state of being opened", meaning the verb "opening" was undertaken until the door had reached the adjective state of being "open". This sounded strange to me at first, until I realized that the English equivalent was to say a door was "opened up", which actually makes less semantic sense then to say it is "opened open". In any case, the "de" in a phrase such as ting de jian means to "to listen to the point of perceiving". This verbal "de" actually uses the same Hanzi as the classical Chinese verb for "to obtain", which means that it perhaps is a regrammaticalization of that verb. shou de qingchu "speaking clearly" could be seen to be a way of saying "speaking in a way that obtains clarity". However, that is mostly an academic point.

The third "de" is used to turn adjectives into adverbs. Chinese, whether classical or modern, traditionally has very few adverbs, perhaps two dozen, and they are always placed before the verb they are modifying. They are usually fairly simple words, such as bu, dou, ye, equivalent to English "not, all, also". Of course, somewhere along the line, someone decided that they wanted to say things more fun then tamen dou zuo and thus they invented the third "de" so they could turn any adjective that they wished into an adverb. Thus, they could make more versatile sentences such as Tamen gaoxing de zuo, "they happily walked". Often, for whatever reasons, the adjective is doubled when used as an adverb, so the phrase may be phrased Tamen gaogaoxingxing de zuo. However, not all adjectives can be used with this "de", and overuse of it may be considered poor literary form, even in spoken Chinese.

That, then, is the three particles pronounced "de" in Chinese, that, while very complicated to explain, make speaking much more easy and versatile.

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