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Several theories exist. The most common etymology is that this verb is derived from sfânt (saint; holy); cf. also Greek ο (o) ήλιος (ílios) Βασίλειε (Vasíleie). In this case, in the popular imagination, the setting of the sun or other celestial body or falling of a star may have been seen as analogous to a sanctification of sorts. However, it seems more likely that the people instead see the idea of sainthood as a living and actual thing, as opposed to being associated with death, decline, and disappearance. It is possible, therefore, that the association with sfânt may be a folk etymology.

Another possibility may ultimately be Latin fingō, which meant "I shape, fashion, form", or "knead dough", and also came to mean "feign", "pretend", "dissemble", "alter the truth to deceive". There may have been a hypothetical early Romanian verb *asfinge, which later became *asfingi, and finally arrived at its current form, and possibly derived from a Vulgar Latin root *exfingere or affingere (cf. also the Classical Latin effingere, which may have been later reinterpreted as *de ex fingere). The semantic evolution to Romanian in this case may have been from that of "deceiving by creating a false form" to "not having any form" to "disappearing". This would also seem to fit with the attested Burgundian/Morvan language of France's foedre ("remove, take out, take down"); compare standard French feindre. Cf. also the semantic development of apune, another word for "to set" in Romanian. Compare Aromanian asfingu, asfindziri (raise dough) and disfingu, disfindziri (cut leavened dough to make bread), which derived their meaning, more literally, from another one of the Latin senses.

A third etymology links it to Slavic svjetiti ("to shine"), and influenced by sfânt, but this would seem to be less likely; cf. sfeti.[1]


a asfinți (third-person singular present asfințește, past participle asfințit4th conj.

  1. (of a heavenly body, such as the Sun) to set
    Synonym: apune


Derived termsEdit


  1. ^ asfinți in DEX online - Dicționare ale limbii române (Dictionaries of the Romanian language)