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, December 6, 2018

Vital forces

Vital forces

Long ago, there was a root that mostly meant vital force, or life. We modern English speakers no longer have that word, but we have its grandchildren.

One of them made its way through Greek & Latin to become eon, an indefinitely long period of time. 

Another came through Old English to become the word each, meaning any, all, every. So did ever, meaning at any time, & every, meaning each individual without exception. This root also gave us the word never, meaning not ever, & never’s Old English synonym, no.

Making its way through Latin & Old French, this root grew into eternal, meaning enduring, everlasting, endless, as did the word eternity, meaning forever.

It also came through Greek & French to become hygiene, the healthful art.

Its Latin progeny include longevity, meaning great age or long life, & primeval, or first age.

Another came to English through Sanskrit to become Ayurvedic, pertaining to the traditional Hindu science of medicine.

Through a Scandinavian source, this word became nay, meaning not ever.

Who knew? Vital forces, indeed. 





My thanks go out to this week’s sources, Etymonline.com, Merriam-Webster.com, Wordnik, Collins Dictionary, & the OED.

4 comments:

  1. I was going to try to use all those in a sentence, but my head started to hurt. Amazing that such divergent words all came from the same root!

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    1. I'm with you. At first, I was hoping we'd be able to see elements of the cultures through which the words passed reflected in their "final" forms, but...not so much.

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  2. I don't know if I ever thought of words like every and each as being positive words. Eternal, hygein, longevity. All good words from one source. Cool!

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    1. I agree, Christine. I love the idea that longevity, eternal, & eon are related to hygiene, AND to ever, never, each, & every. Life is funny.

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