Word Origin Stories

8 posts

Cows (cattle) were often used as currency in early societies

The Peculiarity Of Peculation

Did you know: Before coins and other forms of token money were invented, many societies commonly used cattle as currency and an indicator of wealth. In India, for instance, the term pasu-dhan (पशु-धन) has been in use since ages; in Ireland, “cattle…were used as currency up to around 1400 CE, long […]

Nebulous Or Nuanced

Did you know: Latin nebula (mist or fog), Sanskrit nabhas- (cloud, mists, sky) and Greek nephos (cloud) all come from the same root word. Sanaskrit nabhas- later evolved into nabh (नभ) in Hindi, used, for instance, in these famous lines from Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s Madhushala (मधुशाला) तारक मणियों से सज्जित नभ बन जाए मधु का प्याला सीधा […]

No Text Without Context

Did you know: Texture, which we use in phrases such as this cloth has a fine texture to refer to how it ‘feels’ against our skin, derives from the Latin word texere, which means, to weave. Texture is also sometimes used more broadly to mean ‘distinctive quality’, as in the texture of life […]

The Prolific Proletariat

Did you know: Prolific comes from French prolifique, which is in turn derived from Latin proles (progeny or offspring) + root of facere (to make). A prolific artist, thus, is one who makes/produces many works of art and prolific growth signifies abundant growth. From the same root we also get the word proliferate (multiply, grow fast), […]

Word Origin Stories

The story of humankind and its progression through the ages is a fascinating one; and language, one of humankind’s ‘bosom friends’, has been a constant witness to the unfolding of this tale – in fact, not merely has it witnessed the story, but it has played a key role in […]

The Virile Virtuoso

Vir, in Latin, refers to a man and virilis to being manly or worthy of a man. This root later evolved into virile and virility in English, which has come to refer to ‘masculine characteristics’ such as strength and vigour (esp sexual) and is now also sometimes used in expressions such as a […]