Words of the Day (9/4)

Check out all my Words of the Day posts HERE.

Note: OE = Old English; ME = Middle English; MnE = Modern English.

Here are two etymologies that I find interesting. They come from The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.

  • silly – This comes from the OE word sælig – ‘happy’; ‘blessed’ (from about 700AD – 1300AD). In ME the word was seely – ‘innocent’ (about 1300AD – 1450AD). In MnE, the word began to take on many meanings. From about 1450AD – 1550AD: silly – ‘deserving of compassion’. After 1550AD it gained some more meanings: silly – ‘weak’, ‘feeble’, ‘simple’, ‘ignorant’, ‘feeble-minded’, ‘foolish’, ’empty-headed’. This is an example of a previously positive word that gained a negative connotation over time.
  • punch (the drink) – This was not based on the fact that drinking punch may make you feel like you’ve been punched (or make you punch someone). It actually comes from the Hindi word for ‘five’ (panch), because the original recipe had 5 ingredients (spirits, water, lemon juice, sugar, spice).

Today’s vocab words are simply some words that I enjoy.

  • acumen – the ability to make good judgements and quick decisions; keenness; sharpness
  • chicanery – trickery; artful deception
  • halcyon – happy and peaceful; calm; (usually an idyllic period in the past)

Enjoy your weekend.

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  1. 1

    how do you say “halcyon?”

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