Saturday, October 3, 2009

Today's Cool Etymology

First of all, we've gotten several interesting comments and questions over the past few months, and I wanted to say that I look forward to responding to all of them soon. Thanks to everyone who expressed support of The Bitter Scroll. :-)

Anyway, on to my cool discovery of the day. I was already aware of the collection of words related to measuring, stemming from the Indo-European root *med-. We get words like measure, meter, and metric. The first thing I noticed on wikipedia's list of PIE roots is that this root also yields the Latin meditari and English meditate. But perhaps even cooler is the list of English descendants: there's metan/mete, which makes sense since meting things out implies measuring how much everyone gets; and then there's this item: ǣmtig/empty in Old/Modern English. Seeing the mt root surrounded by the adjective ending -ig and the privative æ- meaning "not," led me to realize that "empty" simply means "unmeasurable, unmeasured."

Incidentally, does anyone know what happened to the online Index of Indo-European Roots on


goofy said...

It was removed "due to financial and usage considerations"

AnWulf said...

In OE there is also: medume, medeme, meodume; adj. –
I. middling, moderate, common, average, mean
II. medium, taking the middle or mean spot as regards (a) size, amount, asf.
> medemian (eo) – to moderate
> medemlic – moderate, mediocre
> medemlicnes f. – mediocrity

[mayhap from Latin medium, neuter of medius ‘middle’ or more likely rooted on the Teut. stem mēd, see mete]