This week’s Word is another special request from Lynne F.
 ~ Remember that any time you have one you’d like me to look up, just let me know! ~
worn by the Sisters of Providence
Nun dates back to the very beginnings of English, all the way to the days of Old English, when it was spelled nunne. Its meanings were all within a similar refrain (a woman devoted to a religious life), but I was a bit surprised to realize that it was used both for those in the church and for pagan priestesses.
Interestingly, it derived from the Latin nonna, which is a word given by children to elderly people (and is still the Italian word for “grandmother”). Though the sources I found didn’t explain why this was also attached to someone of the religious order, I’m guessing it’s because of the respect one would give such a person, similar to what would give one’s elders/grandparents.
It’s also interesting to note that languages from around the globe have a word similar to nonna for “grandmother” or “aunt” (a nurturing female other than one’s mother, basically) – there’s nona in Sanskrit, nana in Persian, nanna in Greek, nena in Serbo-Croatian, the aforementioned Italian nonna, and nain in Welsh.
So to ask a question that diverges a bit from the word itself but echoes what it derives from…what do you call your grandmother?
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