We’re continuing our October look into spooky words today…with demon. I don’t know about you, but for me, this word conjures up a WHOLE different level of fear. Ghosts and spooks are words assigned to human spirits, but demon…that’s a whole different supernatural level, and one that invokes evil.
Um…well…if we’re looking at the history of the word, it actually isn’t so cut and dry!
The English word demon, which dates from 1200 as “an evil spirit, a malignant supernatural being, a devil” is taken directly from the Latin and Greek daemon, which means ANY spirit, good or bad, and sometimes used to describe human souls as well. So how did the English come to associate it solely with the evil side?
It’s because the Greek daemon is the word used in the Bible for “unclean spirits,” and Jewish authors also used it in Greek versions of the Old Testament books for “false gods.” Though Greek speakers never would have ONLY used it in this sense…we weren’t Greek speakers, LOL. So demon came to be applied solely to the evil side of the supernatural.
Occasionally writers or academics will want to use the word in the original Greek or Latin sense, especially when translating, so will interject that extra ‘a’ into the word and make it daemon to differentiate.