A Certain Criminal Rinses

Criminal is a borrowing, via Anglo-Norman, of Latin crīminālis, the adjective form of crīmen, which had multiple meanings.  Among them were “a judicial decision or verdict”, “an object of reproach”, “the cause of a crime”, “the crime of adultery or lewdness”, “an accusation”, and finally “what one is accused of”.  This was, of course, also the ancestor of crime.  Crīmen was descended from Proto-Italic *kreimen from Proto-Indo-European *kréymn̥, from *kréy “to sift”, “to separate”, “to divide” + -men, a noun-forming suffix.  Thus, the meanings relating to “judgement” would’ve been the oldest meanings.

This root also lay behind the Latin verb cernō, through Proto-Italic *krinō, meaning “I separate”, “I decide”, “I sift”, “I perceive”.  The usual past participle of this verb was crētus.  An alternate form of that past participle lay behind the adjective certus, meaning “fixed”, “certain”, “decided”, “resolved”, “sure”.  In Vulgar Latin, this became *certānus with a redundant adjective-forming suffix, -ānus, being added.  This became Old French certain, which was borrowed into English as certain.

This same root formed the basis of the Proto-Germanic adjective *hrainiz meaning “clean”, “pure”, “innocent”, presumably through the notion of separation of the good from the bad.  From the stem *hrain- was formed the verb *hrainisōną, “to cleanse”, “to make purse”.  This became Frankish *hrainisōn, which was borrowed into Old French as rincer, rinser, reinser, raïnser, all meaning “to rinse”.  This also became the Old Norse hreinsa.  One, or both, of those was the source of the English rinse.

Yet another descendant of the same PIE root was the Proto-Germanic *hrīdą meaning “sieve”, which became Old English hrīder or hridder, which developed an alternate form hriddel.  This became Modern English riddle meaning “a sieve with coarse meshes”, more commonly found in the verb “to riddle” meaning “to fill with holes” or “to pervade” or “fill” as in “riddled with errors”.  The sense of “verbal puzzle” is unrelated.

I fucking hate languages.

The Greeks had this word, right, we have no idea where it came from, it just kinda popped up out of nowhere, and it could mean either apples, cheeks, or boobs. Problem is it looked and sounded *exactly* like another, unrelated word which could mean sheep, goat, or any animal in general really, which must have got confusing if you were a farmer talking about your livestock, but anyway…

Then the Romans, having stolen practically everything else from the Greeks, thought they’d nick this word too, because Latin isn’t confusing enough without throwing in a bunch of loan words. And they adopted it to mean a pumpkin.

Then the English came along and were all like “when in Rome”, and stole it, where it became our word ‘melon’. Which has now come back to mean boobs.

How do you like them apples.

An Old English word for library was “bōchord”, which literally means “book hoard”, and honestly I really think we should go back to saying that because not only does it sound really fucking cool, but it also sort of implies that librarians are dragons.

we should talk more about how ‘macaroni’ in 18th century england was used to mean ‘fashionable’ because a bunch of rich young dudes went to italy and really liked the stuff there

language is weird

humans are weird

Fae vs. Fairy

Alright guys, let’s talk fae (the Celtic version).

There’s a terribly common misconception of what fae/fairy (and pixies) really means. On screen and sometimes even in books fairies are mistakenly shown to be those little winged creatures described as mischievous if not evil. That’s false. Those are actually pixies. The actual Fae (faerie, later fairy) are the mysterious nature spirits possessing magical powers, who look human-like but can also temporarily take up various smaller sizes upon choice.

But where do the Fae start? From the myths and folklore of the ancient Celts. The gods and goddesses of the Celts were many in number, and many unknown, but they were regarded with reverence, as having power and purpose, with various functions in the natural world. These gods were the Tuatha de Dannan, the people of Danu.

But with the arrival of Christianity, this changed, like most Celtic (and other non-Celtic) concepts. They were altered in meaning. Gods and deities of the old pagan ways were demoted to “fairy folk”, to heroes and remorseful warriors that change their faith, to lessen their power. Their pedestal of godhood and aura of mystery was strategically erased. They became enchanters, sorcerers, which obviously had evil connotations in Christian perception. In Daemonologie, King James associated fairies with demonic entities. Eventually even this imagery of the magical enchanters was further demoted to what is now most commonly known as that of the pixies: in other words, something small, harmless, powerless, a troublesome spirit that nobody cares to bother with anymore.

So in this sense, fae/faerie/faery refers to the ancient idea of what they stood for, the original one (gods, Tuatha de Dannan, powerful magical spirits); whereas fairy is the more modern one mistaken for pixies (small, harmless, mischievous).

You rarely see a “wend” without a “way.” You can wend your way through a crowd or down a hill, but no one wends to bed or to school. However, there was a time when English speakers would wend to all kinds of places. “Wend” was just another word for “go” in Old English. The past tense of “wend” was “went” and the past tense of “go” was “gaed.” People used both until the 1400s, when “go” became the preferred verb, except in the past tense where “went” hung on, leaving us with an outrageously irregular verb.

To navigate in the age of sail, sailors threw a log overboard, and measured their speed by how fast a rope attached to the log paid out.  This speed (measured in knots, as in knots in the rope) was recorded in the log book.  That’s where the verb “to log” comes from, and that’s why we now “log in.”

Most etymologies that sound this cute and tidy are myths but this one seems to be real.  AHOY!  

 Fun fact: 

The word ‘ostrich’ is actually an Anglicisation of a Frenchification of a Latinisation of a Greek word, which means ‘sparrow-camel.’

Eng. Ostrich < Old French ostruce < Late Latin avis (’bird’) + struthio (’camel’)

struthio < shortened form of Ancient Greek στρουθιοκαμηλος < στρουθιων (’sparrow’, cf. cognates English ‘thrush’, Latin turdus) + καμηλος (’camel’)

So really, the English word ostrich means ‘bird-sparrow-camel’.

“Robot” and “Orphan”

The English word “orphan” comes, via Latin, from the Greek orphanós, which derives from the Proto-Indo-European h₃órbʰos, meaning “orphan”, or “slave, servant”.  It was that second meaning which produced Proto-Slavic *orbъ “slave”, from which was derived the noun *orbota “hard work, slavery”, which produced the Czech robota “forced labor”.  In 1920, the Czech author  Karel Čapek coined the word robot from robota in his sci-fi play Rossum’s Universal Robots, about an industrialist who creates artificial humans as laborers (who eventually rebel against their masters).  It was through that play that the word “robot” entered the English language, although in the original play the robots were organic creatures, rather than the mechanical entities the word is used for today.

today i learned that humanus, -a -um (human) and humus (earth) and χαμαί (on the ground) and ἐπιχθόνιος (on the earth/mortal) all have a common root because i guess we all agree that humans are the people of the dirt

Spanish-Speaking Countries & the Origin of their Names

Argentina 

  • Argentina comes from the latin word for silver, argentum. The first use of the word appears around the time of when the Spanish conquistadors arrived at the Río de la Plata (River of Silver, Silver River) between Argentina and Uruguay. 

Bolivia 

  • Bolivia comes from the name of a leader during the period of the Spanish American wars for independence, Simón Bolívar. 

Chile

  • The valley of the Aconcagua was called “Chili” by the Incas (according to Diego de Rosales) due to a corruption of the name Tili (a tribal chief). 
  • Another theory is that there was a town or valley called Chili in the Casma Valley in Peru, which has a resemblance to the valley of Aconcagua. 
  • Chile could come from an indigenous word meaning “ends of the earth” or “sea gulls." 
  • From Mapuche, "chilli” meaning “where the land ends." 
  • From Quechua, "chiri” meaning “cold” or “tchili” meaning “snow” or “the deepest point of the Earth." 
  • There is a bird that shouts "chile” when flying; they are in all the valleys from the center of the country to the Southern regions. These birds are called Queltehues or Treiles.

Colombia

  • Colombia is derived from the name Christopher Columbus. 

Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica means “rich coast” in Spanish. Christopher Columbus was given credit for discovering this country and called it Costa Rica because he believed there to be precious metals. 

Cuba

  • Cuba is Taíno for “where fertile land is abundant” (cubao) or “great place” (coabana). 

Dominican Republic 

  • The Dominican Republic shares an island with Haiti. 
  • Before the whole island was called Haiti, the Taíno word for mountainous land. Christopher Columbus comes to the island and renames it Hispaniola, meaning “little Spain” because its beauty was comparable to that of Spain’s. 
  • The French arrive on the island, naming the current-day Haiti St. Domingue and the Spanish refered to the Dominican Republic and Santo Domingo. 
  • After its independence, they renamed it to the Dominican Republic 

Ecuador 

  • Ecuador means “equator” in Spanish, and Ecuador lies on the equator. 

El Salvador 

  • El Salvador means “The Savior” in Spanish. 

Guatemala 

  • Guatemala comes from the Nahuatl word Cuauhtēmallān, which means “place of many trees." 
  • Another theory is that the country’s name is a alteration of the Nahoa word which means "land of the snake-eating bird.”

Honduras

  • Honduras means “depths” in Spanish. It is said that Columbus said, "Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de estas Honduras"(Thank God we have left these depths). 

Mexico

  • The Nahuatl word Mexica means “place of the Mexica” (the Aztecs). 
  • In Nahuatl, a combination of three words creates the meaning similar to “in the navel of the moon” because the position of lakes resembles a rabbit; therefore alluding to the navel of a rabbit. 

Nicaragua

  • At the time of the Spanish arrival in Nicaragua, Nicarao was the current chief of the indigenous tribe. Nicarao, combined with the Spanish word for water (agua) due to it’s geography, makes Nicaragua.
  •  Another theory is that it means “surrounded by water” in an indigenous language. 

Panama 

  • Panama comes from a word of the indigenous language meaning something similar to an “abundance of fish” (due to the country’s geography). 

Paraguay

  • Coming from Guaraní, Paraguay is believed to refer to a river despite many versions of its origin. It means something similar to “river that flows through the sea” (French-Argentine historian Paul Groussac), “river crowned” (Antonio Ruiz de Montoya), or refers either to an indigenous tribe that lived along the river or a chief named Paraguaio (Félix de Azara). 

Peru

  • The original name of Peru was Birú, Birú being the name of a ruler who lived close to the Bay of San Miguel, Panama. He was visited by Spanish explores where, at the time, was the southernmost region of the New World. 
  • When Francisco Pizarro arrived in Peru, he asked locals the name of the place. Their answer was “Viru” because of the Viru River in northern Peru (where the Spanish arrived). Instead, they heard “Peru” and since that moment, Pizarro called the land Cusco Peru. 

Puerto Rico 

  • Puerto Rico was originally called San Juan Bautista by Christopher Columbus, after the Catholic saint, Saint John the Baptist, while the capital was called the Ciudad de Puerto Rico. As time went on, gold was found in the river and the country began to be referred to as Puerto Rico. 

Spain

  • España (Spain) comes from the Roman name Hispania, though the origins of this word are unknown. 
  • Hispania could have stemmed from the Greek word Hesperia, which poetically means “western land” or “land of the setting sun” (in reference to Italy), which would then make Spain (further west) Hesperia ultima
  • Antonio de Nebrija (Renaissance) thought that Hispania is derived from the word Hispalis, which means “city of the western world.”
  • Another theory is that it comes from I-Shpania (Punic), meaning something similar to “land of rabbits” because the Roman coins were adorned with a female figure with a rabbit. 

Uruguay 

  • Uruguay is a Guaraní word, which means “river of shellfish” or “river the uru birds come from." 

Venezuela 

  • The indigenous people living in Venezuela during the 1500s built their living quarters on stilts over places like Lake Maracaibo; this reminded a Spanish explorer of Venice (Italy), in which the name Venezuela means "little Venice.”  
  • From the same place in the Maracaibo Lake, the indigenous community that lived there already had a name for the land, Veneçiuela, which meant agua grande (big waters). The Spanish spread that around and assumed that it was the name.

Please correct me if any of these are incorrect! Some of these have multiple histories and I have no way of knowing which one is correct. 

The origins for some of the countries are difficult to find or too fuzzy in my opinion to write it down, but I tried to provide an explanation for the meaning (e.g. El Salvador, Honduras, etc.)

Saudade

Noun

[soh-dah-duh

1. (in Portuguese folk culture) a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent:
    the theme of saudade in literature and music.

Origin:
Portuguese saudade ultimately derives from Latin sōlitāt-, the stem of sōlitās “loneliness, solitude.” (Latin -l- between vowels is lost in Portuguese; Latin -t- between vowels becomes -d- in Portuguese and Spanish.) The original Old Portuguese form soidade was altered to saudade under the influence of the verb saudar “to salute, greet” (from Latin salūtāre “to keep safe, pay one’s respects”). Saudade entered English in the 20th century.

“… “The Girl From Ipanema” was a potent distillation of the concept of saudade, a feeling of melancholic nostalgia that characterizes so much Brazilian music. … Longing for the unattainable, and an acute sense of the moment’s slipping away: That’s saudade.”
- Stephen Holden, “Brazilian Yearning and Imminent Loss,” New York Times, March 21, 2014

The word “vitamine” was first created very recently: in 1912!

It was a frankenword combining “vita,” the Latin word for “life,” and “amine” because that is the chemical term for an amino acid and vitamins were thought to contain amino acids. The “e” was removed in 1920 when scientists figured out there was no amino acid in vitamins.

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin

Born February 12, 1809, Charles Darwin revolutionized science and the culture around it.  On 24 November 1859 Charles Darwin published his monumental work On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, changing the face of biology. Although he only used the word once at the very end of the book, the word evolve (and evolution) is synonymous with Darwin. The word evolve had been used in a scientific sense specifically in biology for over a hundred years before Darwin wrote Origin of Species-which is one reason why he avoided it. By the mid 1850s, the word had connotations of perfectibility-something Darwin wanted to avoid. It was the last sentence of his book:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

The word evolution arrived in English in 1620 and comes from the Latin word evolutionem(nomnative form evolutio) meaning the unrolling of a book or revealing that which was rolled up. The word evolve arrived a bit later in the 1640s from the Latin word evolvere meaning to unroll and could also pertain to other ‘hidden’ things (see also for example the etymology of vulva), but mostly meant books, when a ‘volume’ was a rolled up manuscript made from vellum. The modern meaning that scientists such ad Darwin meant for it began around 1832 and reached its first full expression in Darwin’s work.

Happy Birthday to Charles Darwin, born on this day, 1809.  

The word Abracadabra may derive from an Aramaic phrase meaning “I create as I speak.” This etymology is dubious, however, as אברא כדברא in Aramaic is more reasonably translated “I create like the word.” Jesus called himself “The Word”. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made” Thus, “I create like the Word.” - Wikipedia

The sage-doctors of antiquity said that the vowel “A,” when it is pronounced wisely, has the power to make the thymus gland vibrate. The ancient sages utilize the wise mantra so vulgarized by people today: Abracadabra. This mantra is said to keep the thymus gland active during life. When this gland is active, the organism does not age. - Gnostic Teachings

The word was pronounced so that the sound of the vowel “A” was prolonged. Even some doctors are beginning to cure by means of musical sound. It is interesting to acknowledge that in the voice of the doctor, in each of his words, there is a source of life or death to his patients.

“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

“For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

“Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23

“Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk, and so the innocent escape trouble.” Proverbs 12:13

Compiled and posted by IAO 01/03/2016

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