Thursday, July 16, 2009

Debbie & Storytelling Etymologies (1-10)

  1. UNIVERSAL - 1374, from O.Fr. universel (12c.), from L. universalis "of or belonging to all," from universus "all together, whole, entire" (see universe). In mechanics, a universal joint (1676) is one which allows free movement in any direction; in theology universalism (1805) is the doctrine of universal salvation (universalist in this sense is attested from 1626). Universal product code is recorded from 1974.
  2. INTERPRET - 1382, from L. interpretari "explain, expound, understand," from interpres "agent, translator," from inter- + second element of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Skt. prath- "to spread abroad." Interpretation is attested from 1292 in Anglo-Fr. Interpreter "one who translates spoken languages" is from 1382. Interpretative is from 1569, properly formed from the L. pp. stem; interpretive, which means the same thing but is less correct, is from 1680.
  3. Jo Carson's book Spider Speculations
    SPECULATION - 1374, "contemplation, consideration," from O.Fr. speculation, from L.L. speculationem (nom. speculatio) "contemplation, observation," from L. speculatus, pp. of speculari "observe," from specere "to look at, view" (see scope (1)). Disparaging sense of "mere conjecture" is recorded from 1575. Meaning "buying and selling in search of profit from rise and fall of market value" is recorded from 1774; short form spec is attested from 1794. Speculator in the financial sense is first recorded 1778. Speculate is a 1599 back-formation.
  4. LITERATE - 1432, from L. lit(t)eratus "educated, learned," lit. "one who knows the letters," formed in imitation of Gk. grammatikos from L. lit(t)era "letter." Literacy was formed in Eng. and first appears 1883, but illiteracy dates back to 1660.
  5. ORAL - 1625, from L.L. oralis, from L. os (gen. oris) "mouth, opening, face, entrance," from PIE *os-/*ous- "mouth" (cf. Skt. asan "mouth," asyam "mouth, opening," Avestan ah-, Hittite aish, M.Ir. a "mouth," O.N. oss "mouth of a river," O.E. or "beginning, origin, front"). Psychological meaning "of the mouth as the focus of infantile sexual energy" (e.g. oral fixation) is from 1910. The sexual sense is first recorded 1948, in Kinsey.
  6. NARRATIVE - 1450, from M.Fr. narratif, from L.L. narrativus "suited to narration," from L. narrare (see narration). The noun meaning "a tale, story" is first recorded 1561, from the adjective. Narrator first attested 1611; in sense of "a commentator in a radio program" it is from 1941.
  7. JOURNEY - 1225, "a defined course of traveling," from O.Fr. journée "day's work or travel," from V.L. diurnum "day," noun use of neut. of L. diurnus "of one day" (see diurnal). As recently as Johnson (1755) the primary sense was still "the travel of a day." The verb is from c.1330. Journeyman (1424), "one who works by day," preserves the etymological sense. Its Amer.Eng. colloquial shortening jour (adj.) is attested from 1835.
  8. ENCHANTMENT - 1297, from O.Fr. enchantement, from enchanter "bewitch, charm," from L. incantare, lit. "chant (a magic spell) upon," from in- "upon, into" + cantare "to sing." Cf. O.E. galdor "song," also "spell, enchantment," from galan "to sing," source of the second element in nightingale. Enchanted in weakened sense of "delighted" is from 1593. Enchantress is first recorded c.1374.
  9. PERFORM - 1300, "carry into effect, fulfill, discharge," via Anglo-Fr. performir, altered (by infl. of O.Fr. forme "form") from O.Fr. parfornir "to do, carry out, finish, accomplish," from par- "completely" + fornir "to provide" (see furnish). Theatrical/musical sense is from 1610.
  10. TRADITION - 1380, from O.Fr. tradicion (1292), from L. traditionem (nom. traditio) "delivery, surrender, a handing down," from traditus, pp. of tradere "deliver, hand over," from trans- "over" + dare "to give" (see date (1)). The word is a doublet of treason (q.v.). The notion in the modern sense of the word is of things "handed down" from generation to generation. Traditional is recorded from c.1600; in ref. to jazz, from 1950. Slang trad, short for trad(itional jazz) is recorded from 1956; its general use for "traditional" is recorded from 1963.

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