Today is Labor Day in the US, which is the unofficial start of autumn. Specifically, it marks the beginning of a new school year for American kids (many of whom have already been back to school for a couple weeks). What better time to examine the history of the word? (I first looked at this word back in 2015, so if you’ve been around for a while, you may remember this one!)
The first time I posted about the word school, my daughter was entering 5th grade and my son 2nd. This year, my daughter will be a SENIOR and my son a FRESHMAN! Two highschoolers?! How did this happen??? Those last seven years sure have flown by, and man, has it been a journey in the school realm! The perceived irony of this word, however, continues to delight me, and I’ve been known to remind my groaning kids of it. 😉
The word comes from the Latin schola, which interestingly enough originally meant “leisure.” (Cue the dubious looks from my kids, who insist that “school” and “leisure” cannot exist in the same sentence.) But in Roman days, only those who didn’t have to work had the leisure for learning. And in those ancient days, what was the favored pastime when one had leisure? Discussion. Conversation. Philosophy. This is where the idea of leisurely discussions came from, and where it got extended to the place for such conversations. You can see this root reflected in many different languages, and English is no exception.
By the 1300s, the English word was applied not only to this learning and the place where it happens, but also to the students engaged in it. By the 1610s it had been extended to the idea of “people united by similar principles or methods.” Hence, school of thought by the 1860s.
For my own part, I always loved school and hated to miss a day. How about you? School lover or school groaner?