Wariness pays off
This collection of words that share a centuries-old root. What do you suppose the root meant?
aware, beware, wary, & guard (the verb)
As you probably guessed, the root word has something to do with wariness — these words all came from the Proto-Indo-European word *wer-, which meant to watch out for or perceive.
*Wer- also gave us some words that define some of the things people might be wary of losing:
wares, warehouse, & reward
And some words that involve storing or protecting those wares:
wardrobe, steward, reverend, warden, & guard (the noun)
It even gave us the word lord, which in the lower case refers to he who guards the loaves & in the upper case can refer to a British noble, or in Christianity, God.
Then there are *wer-’s offspring that help label how we might look up to those who watch over things for us:
regard, revere, & reverence
And what would we do without outliers? These unlikely words also grew out of this same fruitful root:
hardware, panorama, avant garde, & software
To confuse matters even more, this is only one of the four Proto-Indo-European *wer-s linguists have identified. The other three meant to cover, to bend, & to lift.
Ah, Language. Nothing like it, eh?
My thanks go out to this week’s sources, Merriam Webster, Collins Dictionary, Etymonline, & Wordnik.