An Origin Story

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An Origin Story

by John Anderson Lanier
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016 - 10:15am

CAMPAIGN: Ecocentricity Blog


By the time I graduated from high school, I had taken five years of Latin. In case there was any lingering doubt in your mind about whether I’m a nerd, this should settle the matter.

I enjoyed my years of Latin, though I remember little at this point. Those classes were over a decade ago, after all. That said, a few lessons have stayed with me, in particular some lessons on the etymology, or linguistic origin, of various English words. It turns out that a lot of our language can be traced back to Latin, with some surprising origin stories for words.

For instance, consider the English word “sinister.” Today, the word brings to mind someone or something that is menacing, dark or conniving. The word comes from the Latin word of the same spelling, which surprisingly means “left,” as in the opposite of “right.”

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Valerie Bennett
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Ray C. Anderson Foundation
CATEGORY: Environment