Etymology Tuesday

Here are the words of the week and their histories from the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Stupor: late 14c., from L. stupor “insensibility, numbness, dullness,” from stupere “be stunned” (see stupid).

Body: O.E. bodig “trunk, chest” (of a man or animal); related to O.H.G. botah, of unknown origin. Not elsewhere in Germanic, and the word has died out in German, replaced by leib, originally “life,” and körper, from Latin. In English, extension to “person” is from late 13c. Meaning “main part” of anything was in late Old English, hence its use in reference to vehicles (1520s).
Contrasted with soul since at least mid-13c. Meaning “corpse” (short for dead body) is from late 13c. Transferred to matter generally in Middle English (e.g. heavenly body, late 14c.). Body politic “the nation, the state” first recorded 1520s, legalese, with French word order. Body image was coined 1935. Body language is attested from 1967, perhaps from Fr. langage corporel (1966). Phrase over my dead body attested by 1833.

Smother: c.1200, “to suffocate with smoke,” from smorthre (n.) “dense, suffocating smoke” (late 12c.), from stem of O.E. smorian “to suffocate, choke,” possibly connected to smolder. Meaning “to kill by suffocation” is from 1540s; sense of “to extinguish a fire” is from 1590s. Sense of “stifle, repress” is first recorded 1570s; meaning “to cover thickly (with some substance)” is from 1590s. Related: Smothered; smothering.

I hope you find these interesting! More to come next week. Don’t forget to let me know if you’d like to see these discussed in terms of the novel they came from.


~ by lamichaud on August 14, 2012.

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