Word of the Week – Tedious

Word of the Week – Tedious

You probably know the definition of tedious: “tiresome because of length or dullness : boring.”

But the etymology of tedious is actually a bit more interesting and made me snort-laugh when I saw it. Tedious and tedium are from the Late Latin taediosus and taedium (respectively–obviously the same root there), which didn’t just mean boring and long. They meant “wearisome, irksome.” Not just boring, annoying.

Right?? 😉 This is why I get annoyed with those long, detailed, boring tasks. I do indeed find them irksome, LOL.

Tedious has been in English since the 1400s, and tedium since the 1660s. Interestingly, tedium at that time not only carried the meaning of “boring and irksome,” but even more, “disgust.” (I personally wouldn’t go that far, ha ha.)

Are you a details person who thrives in those long tasks others may find boring or tedious?

Word of the Week – Minute

Word of the Week – Minute

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.”


Word of the Week – Second

Word of the Week – Second

The other day as my daughter and I were watching her pre-cal lesson, the presenter (talking about the velocity of falling objects) said, “Now, in the second second, the object will be moving at…”

Xoe looked over at me and said, “Why is it called that, anyway? Why is second the word for a measure of time?”

Being the word nerd that I am, I immediately jotted it down and looked it up as soon as the lesson was over, to see why these two very different words–one and ordinal number (first, second, third) and one a measure of time–were the same.

Sometimes things like this come from different roots or very different meanings of the same root, but in this case, the relationship is very deliberate!

Second comes from the Latin secondus, meaning “following, next in time or order.”

Well, that explains the ordinal number…but what about the measure of time? Well, as it turns out, it’s because it’s “the second division of an hour into a sixtieth.” The minute is the first division (originally called the “prime minute”), and the second is the second minute (as in, small part…come back next week for a closer look at minute)!

I had no idea. So simple, but…I had no idea, LOL.

Word of the Week – Reveal

Word of the Week – Reveal

We all know what reveal and revelation mean, of course…and they have been in the English language for a LONG time. Like, since the early 1400s. The meaning has never really changed either–it’s always been “to disclose, to divulge, to make known.”

What’s interesting is actually the Latin root. The Latin revelare also carries the same meaning, but it is literally “to unveil.” Velare is the “to veil” part (no surprise, right?) and the re here isn’t the usual “again” but the rarer use of “opposite of.” We don’t see the re- prefix used like that very often!

And I love this imagery, don’t you? That something being revealed isn’t just shown or made known, it’s literally unveiled. Because that’s how it always feels when we discover something–that a mask or curtain has been pulled away, leaving us with that beautiful “Ta da!” moment of discovery.

Word of the Week – Thesaurus

Word of the Week – Thesaurus

Today’s word comes courtesy of the reading my daughter and I have been doing in our Greek New Testament. We came across the word for treasure (thesauros), we both went, “Hey! That sounds like ‘thesaurus’!” To which I of course said, “Well, maybe we use it as ‘a treasury of words.'” Which I thought would be pretty cute, but I wasn’t convinced I was right.

As it happens, though…I was!

Thesaurus has been in English since the 1820s as “a treasury, a storehouse,” and from the 1840s as “an encyclopedia.” Interestingly, though, an alternate spelling of thesaurie has been used by dictionary compilers since the 1590s! Roget was the first to create a version of “words arranged by order of sense” rather than alphabetic, definitional listings, which he first compiled in 1852.

Some other old versions of this word include thesaurer as “treasurer” and thesaur as “treasure” in the 1400-1500s. I’m not certain how we came to replace that H with an R, but the words are certainly close even in spelling, aren’t they?

Are you a fan of a thesaurus? I use them frequently in my writing (digital versions) and always had a paperback version on hand when I was a teen!

Word of the Week – Stoic

Word of the Week – Stoic

Stoic. You probably know what it means: “a person who accepts what happens without complaint or showing emotion.”

I was in college when I learned that this was referring to a particular group of people who adhered to the philosophy of Zeno and then Epictetus, ancient Greek and Roman philosophers…but even then I didn’t learn where the word came from.

Apparently the Greek word from which we get stoic is stoa which means … wait for it … PORCH! That’s right. Stoic means “from the porch.” Why, you may ask? Because Zeno liked to give lectures from his portico. His followers would gather around his porch to listen to him, and so they became known as Stoics.

Do you accept whatever befalls you with detachment?