One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In early use: †that aids or rescues from harm (obsolete). Later: that gives help or support by subvention, or as a subvention.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in Richard Strange (c1611–1682), Jesuit. From subvent or its etymon classical Latin subvent-, past participial stem of subvenīre subvene + -ive.
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