Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Veterans? Remembrance? Armistice?

Veterans? Remembrance? Armistice?
What we Americans now call Veteran's Day & our friends across the pond call Remembrance Day, was initially called Armistice Day.
 Armistice Day was declared when the "War to End War" finally came to an end (at 11 AM, November 11, 1918).

The word armistice entered English in its Latin form, armistitium in the 17th century, taking a few decades to become Anglicized into armistice by 1707. The initial bit, arm- referred directly to arms (as in taking up arms), while the latter part, -stice, meant a stopping or cessation. By the time the WWI Armistice was signed, the concept of brevity had been added to the definition, a brief cessation in hostilities. I find it sadly intriguing that we ended the War to End Wars by stopping our hostilities briefly. The national holiday in America was declared in 1938.
After World War II, Remembrance Day was established in Britain, coinciding with the Yank's Armistice Day. The word remembrance showed up in English in the 12th century, coming through French from the Latin word rememorari, to recall to mind, to remember, to be mindful of
By 1954, Americans renamed Armistice Day Veterans' Day, to include all those who fought after we ended war earlier in the century. The word veteran appeared in English in the 16th century, through French, & Latin. It meant old. Though the Latin word veteranus applied to anything or anybody with “much life experience,” the term settled over time on experienced soldiers.
Here's a tidbit of the 1938 Congressional resolution: Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations…”
May November 11th find us all perpetuating peace through good will and mutual understanding.
I welcome any thoughts or comments on all this.

My thanks go out to this week’s sources,, The OED & Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


  1. It seems that whereas Armistice Day was intended to honor the stoppage of war our Veterans Day is meant more to honor the honor of war. Since I have a hard time seeing the honor of war I wish we could return to the original purpose of the day and honor the end to all wars. "Old" regarding veterans...not really. "Much life experience"...maybe a bit too much experience.

  2. Hi Christine,
    I'm with you 100% on the idea of celebrating the cessation of war. I wonder how one could go about promoting that idea without having unpatriotic slings & arrows slung at him.