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Etymology

Sep 5, 2022
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Etymology is the study of the history behind a word. The English language is living and growing. Although many words have been part of the language and vocabulary for many years, new words are added all the time.   

There are various ways in which language is influenced. 

Derived from Foreign Words – English has been commonly expanded by adding foreign words into it. English has mostly ancient Anglo-Saxon or Latin influences. Various other languages have also been added to our vocabularies. 

Through Technology & Products – words often reflect current interests, trends, and innovations. One of the recent additions to language has been computer technology, which has created words such as bytes, monitor, and disk. 

Another way new words come into vocabulary is through the development of products.

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Some examples include:

  • Kleenex
  • Scotch tape
  • iPod

People’s Names – when a person invents something, that thing or invention becomes mostly associated with the person’s name. The person, through time, is forgotten while the name lives on. Examples include: 

  • mesmerize – F.A. Mesmer. 
  • Bowler hat – William Bowler. 
  • Saxophone – Adolphe Sax. 

Words from Letters – The initials of certain things replace their actual names. The initials become the words that represent the thing or concept; some examples include: 

  • TV – Television 
  • DUI – Driving Under the Influence 
  • COD – Cash On Delivery 

Word Histories – Some words also have histories. Learning the history behind the meanings is an excellent way to learn these words. The following are some examples. 

Nightmare – comes from German folklore, in which a “mare” is an evil spirit or goblin that haunts a sleeping person by suffocating them and giving them bad dreams. 

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Quarantine – The word “quarantine” has its origins in the plague Black Death, which swept across Europe during the 14th century. Now the word “quarantine” refers to restricting the movement, for a period of time, of people or animals who seem healthy, but who might have been exposed to a harmful disease that could spread if left uncheck 

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