Sunday, 3 July 2022

Synonym Etymologies O

Continuing the look at synonyms through the eyes of the etymologist, this time it is the letter O and old. While it is easy to see this as being used in the sense of 'mature', indeed the word has been used to mean just that for at least a millennium, the Proto-Indo-European root of al was used in the sense of 'grow, nourish' - effectively 'to make old'. Note the Scottish version of auld is a preservation of the Old English ald.

Mature also began in the same sense as the root of 'old' above. It came to English from Latin maturus meaning 'ripe, timely, early', the earliest root being Proto-Indo-European meh-tu 'ripeness'.

Aged, clearly from 'age' and first used as a noun. Here, rather than being related to nurturing crops, the Proto-Indo-European root aiw certainly is used in the same sense for it means 'vital force, life, eternity' depending upon the context.

Senior can be traced to the Proto-Indo-European sen meaning simply 'old'. Not used in English in the sense of 'higher rank' until the early 16th century, prior to that it was only used to denote which of two relatives (nearly always male) having the same name.

Past began as an adjective, and used in the sense of 'done with, no longer existing', not until five centuries ago was it ever used in the modern sense. The word came from 'pass', itself derived from Latin passus 'pace, step' and earlier Proto-Indo-European pete 'to spread'.

Gone is from 'go', itself a simplistic and very ancient word coming from Proto-Indo-European ghe 'to be released'.

Previous has two elements, both Latin where praevius had the same meaning and was comprised of prae 'before' and via 'road'.

Ancient is first used in English around the early 15th century. Prior to that it is seen in the Latin anteanus 'from before', and earlier still in Proto-Indo-European anti 'against' and ant 'front, forehead'.

Historic, clearly from 'historical' and thus 'history', came to English from Old French estoire 'story, chronicle'. Earlier the trail can be seen in Greek historia 'a learning' and ultimately from Proto-Indo-European weid 'to see' and also 'to know'.

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