Tag Archives: origins

Origin Sift

16 Jun

-iatric

  • from Gk. iatrikos “healing,” from iatros “physician, healer” (related to iatreun “treat medically,” and iasthai “heal, treat”); of uncertain origin, perhaps from iaomai “to cure,” related to iaino “heat, warm, cheer,” probably from a root meaning “enliven, animate.”

I

  • 12c. shortening of O.E. ic, first person sing. nom. pronoun, from P.Gmc. *ekan (cf. O.Fris. ik, O.N. ek, Norw. eg, Dan. jeg, O.H.G. ih, Ger. ich, Goth. ik), from PIE *ego(m) (cf. Skt. aham, Hitt. uk, L. ego, Gk. ego, Rus. ja). Reduced to i by 1137 in northern England, it began to be capitalized mid-13c. to mark it as a distinct word and avoid misreading in handwritten manuscripts.
  • The reason for writing I is … the orthographic habit in the middle ages of using a ‘long i’ (that is, j or I) whenever the letter was isolated or formed the last letter of a group; the numeral ‘one’ was written j or I (and three iij, etc.), just as much as the pronoun. [Otto Jespersen, “Growth and Structure of the English Language,” p.233]

plasma

  • 1712, “form, shape” (earlier plasm, 1620), from L.L. plasma, from Gk. plasma “something molded or created,” from plassein “to mold,” originally “to spread thin,” from PIE *plath-yein, from base *pele- “flat, to spread” (see plane (1)). Sense of “liquid part of blood” is from 1845; that of “ionized gas” is 1928.

protoplasm

  • 1848, from Ger. Protoplasma (1846), used by Ger. botanist Hugo von Mohl (1805-72), from Gk. proto- “first” + plasma “something molded” (see plasma). The word was in L.L., meaning “first created thing,” and may have existed in ecclesiastical Gk. in a different sense. It was used 1839 by Czech physiologist Johannes Evangelista Purkinje (1787-1869) to denote the gelatinous fluid found in living tissue. This word prevailed, though Ger. language purists preferred Urschleim “original mucus.”

god

  • O.E. god “supreme being, deity,” from P.Gmc. *guthan (cf. Du. god, Ger. Gott, O.N. guð, Goth. guþ), from PIE *ghut- “that which is invoked” (cf. Skt. huta- “invoked,” an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- “to call, invoke.” But some trace it to PIE *ghu-to- “poured,” from root *gheu- “to pour, pour a libation” (source of Gk. khein “to pour,” khoane “funnel” and khymos “juice;” also in the phrase khute gaia “poured earth,” referring to a burial mound). “Given the Greek facts, the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound” [Watkins]. Cf. also Zeus. Not related to good. Originally neut. in Gmc., the gender shifted to masc. after the coming of Christianity. O.E. god was probably closer in sense to L. numen. A better word to translate deus might have been P.Gmc. *ansuz, but this was only used of the highest deities in the Gmc. religion, and not of foreign gods, and it was never used of the Christian God. It survives in English mainly in the personal names beginning in Os-.
  • I want my lawyer, my tailor, my servants, even my wife to believe in God, because it means that I shall be cheated and robbed and cuckolded less often. … If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. [Voltaire]

vox

  • 1550, from L., lit. “voice” (see voice). Especially in vox populi (1550) “the voice of the people” (the full maxim is Vox populi vox Dei “the voice of the people is the voice of God”).
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