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First attested in Henry Cockeram’s 1623 English Dictionarie, first used in 1656; an adaptation of percontatiōn-, the stem of the Latin percontatiō (questioning, inquiry), from percontor (I inquire, I interrogate).



percontation (plural percontations)

  1. (obsolete) A question which cannot properly be given a one-word answer like “yes” or “no”.

Related terms[edit]


  • Percontation” listed on page 676 of volume 7 (O–P) of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles [1st ed., 1909]
      Percontation (pə̄ɹkǫntēⁱ·ʃən). rare. [ad. L. percontatiōn-em, n. of action from percontāre, -ārī to inquire, interrogate.] A questioning, inquiry. So Percontatorial (pəɹkǫntătōᵊ·riăl) a., given to, or pertaining to, questioning; inquisitive. [¶] 1623 Cockeram, Percontation, an enquiry. 1656 Stanley Hist. Philos. viii. (1701) 310/1 Percontation is a thing for which we cannot answer significantly, as Interrogation, yes: but as thus, He dwelleth in such a place.1835–8 S. R. Maitland Dark Ages ii. (1844) 24 Between a percontation and interrogation, the ancients made this distinction — that the former admitted a variety of answers, while the latter must be replied to by ‘yes’ or ‘no’. 1853 Thackeray In United States, This percontatorial foible has grown with the national growth. 1861 Sat. Rev. 18 May 496 The forms of the house, on putting a question, do not admit the percontatorial process to be continued.
  • percontation” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [2nd ed., 1989]
  • † percontation, n.” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [3rd ed., September 2005]