Last week I took a look at the uses of second … which led me straight to minute. I did mention in that post that the divisions of time were once “prime minute” and “second minute” … well, along the way, “prime minute” got shortened to minute and “second minute” to second. But let’s take a look at that base minute, shall we?
It’s no great surprise that minute, which comes directly from the Latin, just means “small portion.” We do, after all, still have the adjective minute (my-noot) that means just that. Interestingly, the original Latin is actually a past participle of minuere, which means “to lessen or diminish.” Makes sense, but I’d never really thought of those small things as being a diminishing, which implies shrinking from something greater…why, I have to wonder, could it not be the seed from which the greater thing grew? But I digress, LOL.
Minute has been around in English pretty much as long as English has been around. Not a big surprise there.
Thought minutes–as in, the notes taken at a meeting–are rather interesting. They come, not from being a record of the way the minutes of a meeting were spent, which is what I would have guessed had I paused to ask where it came from, but in fact from the Latin minuta scriptura, literally “small writing” but used to mean “rough notes.”