Etymology Tuesday (on time!)

Tuesday’s almost over, but it’s still Tuesday! Here are three words from my novel and their histories from the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Control: early 14c., “to check, verify, regulate,” from Anglo-Fr. contreroller “exert authority,” from M.L. contrarotulus “a counter, register,” from L. contra– “against” (see contra) +rotulus, dim. of rota “wheel” (see roll). From a medieval method of checking accounts by a duplicate register. Sense of “dominate, direct” is mid-15c. Related: Controlled (1580s; of rent, from c.1930); controlling (1520s).

The issue of control is a theme in my novel.

The characters struggle with self control, controlling their fears, controlling their powers, and controlling the dangerous situations they get themselves into. The villain is doing his best to learn how to control humanity so that he can be in power again. I’ll admit that I didn’t notice this until I started thinking about how to relate the word back to the story. I feel a little bit clever for working this all in without noticing what I was doing. Good brain.

Burn: 12c., combination of O.N. brenna “to burn, light,” and two originally distinct O.E. verbs: bærnan “to kindle” (trans.) and beornan “to be on fire” (intrans.), both from P.Gmc.*brennan, *branajan (cf. M.Du. bernen, Du. branden, O.H.G. brinnan, Ger. brennen, Goth. brannjan), perhaps from PIE *gwher– “to heat, warm” (see warm), or from PIE *bhre-n-u, from root *bhreue– “to boil forth, well up” (see brew). Related: Burnedburning.
Figuratively (of passions, battle, etc.) in O.E. Meaning “cheat, swindle, victimize” is first attested 1650s. To burn one’s bridges (behind one) “behave so as to destroy any chance of returning to a status quo” attested by 1892 in Mark Twain, perhaps ultimately from cavalry raids in the Civil War. Slavic languages have historically used different and unrelated words for the transitive and intransitive senses of “set fire to”/”be on fire:” cf. Pol. palić/gorzeć, Rus. Žeč’/gorel.

This is what happens whenever dragons get involved. No one is exempt.

Presence: mid-14c., “fact of being present,” from O.Fr. presence (12c.), from L. præsentia “a being present,” from praesentem (see present (n.)). Meaning “carriage, demeanor, aspect” (especially if impressive) is from 1570s; that of “divine, spiritual or incorporeal being felt as present” is from 1660s. Presence of mind (1660s) is a loan-translation of Fr. présence d’esprit, L. praesentia animi.

One might “sense the presence” of the shades in the Sequestered Lands before one becomes possessed by them. Hopefully one has the presence of mind to avoid going to that dark archipelago to begin with.

Well, folks, it’s been lots of fun, but I’m considering reducing Etymology Tuesday’s to just the word histories without the commentary. I feel like I’m either giving away too much, or making comments that are so cryptic that they don’t make sense. I’d love some input on this, and any suggestions about how I can make this work better would be Oh So Welcome.
Until next Tuesday!


~ by lamichaud on August 7, 2012.

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