Concatenate is as its true meaning a link, in this case of words connecting like the links of a chain. Any string of things related to each other qualifies as a concatenation, such as elephants who concatenate themselves into a train by each of them holding the tail of the one before it with its trunk. In such cases, each connects to what precedes and succeeds it.
The word concatenate comes from Latin concatenatus “linked together”, the past participle of concatenare “to link together”, made up of com- “together with” and catenare, a verb from catena “a chain”. The word-forming element of “com-” usually meaning “with, together,” from Latin com, archaic form of classical Latin cum, and from Proto-Indo-European kom- “beside, near, by, with” (cf. Old English ge-, German ge-). Before vowels and aspirates it was reduced to co-, taken in English from 17c. as a living prefix meaning “together, mutually, in common,” and used loosely with native words and Latin-derived words not beginning with vowels, or sometimes even with words already containing it (e.g. co-conspiritor).
The root of the original Latin word, catena, appears to have been Proto-Indo-European kat- “to twist” developing from the sense of “rope” or “string”. When catena reached Old French it had become chaeine, which was imitated and polished into “chain” in English. Another Latin word that may be related is cassis “snare, hunting net”. The word chain also shares much of the same history coming from catena and the root kat in c.1300. The late 14c. introduced the verb chain in correspondence with linking things together. “Link” coming from early 15c., “one of a series of rings or loops which form a chain; section of a cord,” though it is attested earlier in the late 14c. “bind, fasten, to couple”.
The word concatenate also comes with a wide range of the usual derivation from Latinate verbs: a person who concatenates is a concatenator; the noun is concatenation; a concatenative process or result is the adjective. Any strings of things related to each other qualifies as a concatenation. In formal language theory and computer programming, string concatenation is the operation of joining two character strings end-to-end. For example, the concatenation of “snow” and “ball” is “snowball”. Each word is a set of strings and together they create a concatenation consisting of all strings. In this context, sets of strings are often referred to as formal languages. Concatenation is an uncountable and countable noun for its association with the application of series of links (uncountable) and the series of links united (countable).
In programming for telephony, concatenation is used to provide effective audio feedback to users of systems such as speaking clocks where the correct time is giving by playing the appropriate recordings concatenated together. Another example is public announcements such as in airports for routes and flights. The system archives recorded speech and plays them back in a specific system to make an understandable announcement.
Concatenate’s noun seems to be more of a behind-the-scenes word in its use of creating understandable messages while the verb can be applied throughout nature and in our everyday lives where we connect ourselves to something or someone.
1. Online Etymology Dictionary, “chain”, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=chain&allowed_in_frame=0
2. Online Etymology Dictionary, “concatenation”, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=concatenation&allowed_in_frame=0
3. Online Etymology Dictionary, “catenate”, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=catenate&searchmode=none
4. Online Etymology Dictionary, “co-”, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=co-&allowed_in_frame=0
5. Online Etymology Dictionary, “com-”, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=com-&allowed_in_frame=0
6. Wikipedia, Concatenation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concatenation
7. Wikipedia, Concatenation (mathematics), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concatenation_(mathematics)
8. alphaDictionary.com, concatenate, http://www.alphadictionary.com/goodword/word/concatenate
9. Wikipedia, concatenation, http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/concatenation