Sunday, November 14, 2010

Uncommonly Known Origins of 20 Common Words

Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. English in particular is a language that consists of many words that were adopted and adapted from other languages.

Though it may sound dull, learning how our modern-day English words came to evolve from older languages is fascinating. Recently, this post by Best College Online was brought to my attention. I liked it so much, I had to share. It explores 20 surprising origins of words that many of us use every day.

Mortgage : Paying your mortgage can have a deathly effect on your bank account, so go figure that mort was taken from mori, meaning “to die” in Latin. That combined with gage, which is Latin for “pledge,” mortgage literally means “dead pledge.” The word surfaced in Old French during the 13th century, indicating that a pledge for property was dead to the borrower if the loan was repaid, or the property was dead to the borrower if the loan weren’t repaid.

Panic : Pan, the half-man and half-goat Greek God of woods and fields, was infamous for causing unbridled yet mindless fear in crowded places, inspiring the coining of panikon deima, or “panic fear.” Later, the term was adopted by the French as panique

Weird : The original English meaning of weird was “fate” or “destiny.” During the Middle English period, it was used in reference to the three fates of Greek and Roman myth. Later, Shakespeare included the three weird sisters in “Macbeth,” leading to its modern usage.
And these were the safest definitions I felt comfortable posting on my blog! You wouldn't believe from where the words fizzle, dork, or avocado originated. Read the rest of the article here.

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