Etymology Tuesday

It’s Tuesday yet again, and, this time, not the Tuesday after Labor Day. That means I’ve got some words for you from the newest bit of my novel, and their histories from the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Sear: O.E. searian “dry up, to whither,” from P.Gmc. *saurajan, from root of sear “dried up, withered” (see sere). Meaning “to brand, to burn by hot iron” is recorded from 1520s; figurative use is from 1580s. Related: Seared; searing.

Torrent: c.1600, from Fr. torrent, from L. torrentem (nom. torrens) “rushing stream,” originally “roaring, boiling, burning, parching,” prp. of torrere “to parch” (see terrain). Sense of “any onrush” (of words, feelings, etc.) first recorded 1640s.

Mark: “to put a mark on,” O.E. mearcian (W.Saxon), merciga (Anglian) “to trace out boundaries,” from P.Gmc. *markojanan (cf. O.N. merkja, O.S. markon, O.Fris. merkia, O.H.G. marchon, Ger. merken “to mark, note,” M.Du., Du. merken), from the root of mark (n.1). Influenced by Scandinavian cognates. Meaning “to have a mark” is from c.1400; that of “to notice, observe” is late 14c. Meaning “to put a numerical price on an object for sale” led to verbal phrase mark down (1859). Mark time (1833) is from military drill. Related:Markedmarking. Old French merchier “to mark, note, stamp, brand” is a Germanic loan-word.

And that’s that. I can’t help but notice how many of the words I pick are either directly or obliquely related to fire. Sometimes, as in the word “torrent,” I’m quit surprised to find the suggestion of a connection. More words next time.
Until then, ta-ta!


~ by lamichaud on September 11, 2012.

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