One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A thing which takes the place or assumes the function of another; specifically (a) a specific, and especially typical, example of a broader group, class, or category; (b) a thing which corresponds to another in some respect; an equivalent, counterpart, or analogue. Now rare.
Early 17th century (in an earlier sense). From represent + -ant, partly after Spanish representante actor, and partly after French représentant person who stands in for another at a public function or ceremony, person authorized to act or speak on behalf of another, person chosen to represent a religious group, person elected to represent a political group, use as noun of present participle of représenter. Compare Dutch representant, German Repräsentant, Swedish representant, all from French.
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