But no, it's pronounced "in DITE". And back in the 1300s when we borrowed the word from French, it was sensibly spelled "indite" (sometimes "endite"). The French had done their usual consonant-dropping thing on the Latin original indictāre (to declare), in turn derived from indicere (proclaim, appoint) from in- (towards) + dicere (pronounce, utter).
As with so many other words, the Latinomania of the Renaissance put paid to the sensible spelling: "It had a C in Latin so it should have a C in English!!!!". And there we are.
You may have been puzzled by the apparent use of this word in Handel's beautiful Coronation Anthem, "My heart is inditing", a setting of Psalm 45. This started out as the same word as "indict", but branched out to mean "express in words" rather than "accuse". The King James Version is
My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.As this sense is now obsolete, modern translations have
My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king;
my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
My heart is overflowing with a good thought;https://youtu.be/GZ7cGnucGNU
I am speaking my works for the king;
my tongue is the pen of a skilled scribe.
"Stirred by a noble theme" indeed.
To have fun facts about English delivered weekly right to your inbox, click here to subscribe by email.
Looking for an entertaining speaker? Here are some of my topics:
Why is English so wacky?
A fun-filled and light-hearted but informative look at the weirdness of the English language and how it got to be the way it is. Includes things you never suspected about husbands, ptarmigan, porcelain, and much more. Laughs guaranteed...even when you find out why "guarantee" has such an odd spelling.
Bachelor for Rent: Things You Never Suspected About Canadian English”A hilarious look at what is distinctive about Canadians and their language
English Schminglish: How Jews have Enriched our LanguageAn entertaining look at how Hebrew and Yiddish words have enriched the English language for thousands of years