From the Greek, "taking away"
Examples and Observations:
- "Children learning to speak first tend to retain only the final syllable of words (-nette for marionnette, -range for orange), then two syllables (-anna for nanna, -octor for doctor). Loose pronunciation ('xactly for exactly) has thus something childish about it. But in 'tention! (for Attention!) economy of effort and efficiency come into play.
"Like apocope, aphaeresis most commonly involves the slack use of an expression rather than a literary device."
(Bernard Dupriez, A Dictionary of Literary Devices, trans. by Albert W. Halsall. Univ. of Toronto Press, 1991)
- "I can't kill the possum [for opossum], 'cause [for because] it might be innocent. I can't let the possum go, because it might be guilty. Can't make a good soup, can't do a handstand in a pool. Can't spell the word 'lieutenant.' There are a lot of cant's in my life right now."
(Amy Poehler as Lesley Knope in "The Possum." Parks and Recreation, 2010)
- "Aphaeresis has given us a number of new words, like drawing-room (from withdrawing-room), fend (from defend; whence fender), sport (from disport), and stain (from distain). A number are aphetic in the narrow sense: pert (from now obsolete apert, going back ultimately to Latin appertus 'open'), peal (from appeal), mend (from amend), fray (from affray), the verb ply (from apply), the adjective live (from alive), spy (from espy), and tend (from both attend and intend). In the above cases, significant semantic development followed the aphaeresis, so that one does not normally connect in one's mind the shortened and the original longer forms."
(The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, 1991)