Back again for another fun filled
adventure. Did you know that sit comes from the Proto Indo Europeansed-, to sit? You should, because that’s what I told you last week. And it’s a part of so
many words. Some of which make sense. Most of which… do not. Because etymology.
First let’s look at some that make
sense, like sedentary. It showed up in the late sixteenth century from the Middle Frenchsédentaire and classical Latinsedentarius, sitting.
It’s from the word sedentem, sat,
from the verb sedere, to sit,
and that’s from the Proto Indo European sed-. There’s also sediment, which
showed up in the mid sixteenth century,
from the Middle French sédiment and
classical Latin sedimentum, sediment or settling. And that too is from sedere. Because stuff settles to the bottom
of liquids, it’s related to seat.
Okay, time to get a little weirder.
Sedate showed up in the mid seventeenth century meaning calm, not meaning being sedated until 1945. It’s from the classical
Latin sedatus, quiet.
Now, that one’s from the verb sedare,
with an a, meaning to quiet or settle. But that’s also from sedere, so it’s not too odd. They just
apparently decided when they were speaking more metaphorically, to replace the
e with the a.
Next, saddle. Hey, it’s something
you sit on. It’s from the Old Englishsadol, saddle,
from the Proto
Germanicsathulaz. That’s from sed-,
which makes this the first of these words to get to us by a non-Latin route, so
You know what else is related?
Sedan. And boy, is that one a story. It showed up in the early seventeenth century but back then it only meant a
chair—a chair is a seat, so yeah, that tracks. It’s thought to be (although not
definitely) from the Italian sede,
which means seat,
from the classical Latin sedes, which
is also a seat,
and is from sedere and sed-. As for why it means a car, well… there’s no real
reason for that. It just showed up in American English in 1912 meaning a
“closed automobile seating four or more”. No idea why they picked that
Finally this week, supersede. No,
I’m not making this up. It showed up in the mid fifteenth century in Scottish, believe it or not. It’s from the Middle French superceder, delay or defer, and that’s
from the classical Latin supersedere,
which again means supersede but also literally means “to sit on top of.” The super- means above and the rest is from sedere, to sit. To sit above, to sit on top of, to delay.
Well, it makes more sense than sedan.
Here’s something that… probably won’t
cheer you up but is the best I have.
I’ve gotten a couple of these
recently, and, surprisingly, on posts that aren’t five years old. It’s like the
spammers have finally figured out it’s kind of suspicious when they post their comments on ancient posts. Not really sure why they’re so anti-soy, but
Oh, they got my address from a
directory. I was worried there for a second that this might be some kind of
Ah, yes. My ATM card for my
Africa-based bank. It’s not like there are any banks around here for me to use.
…That combination of emojis just made
me throw up in my mouth a little.
Huh. I wonder if being in quarantine
is going to make this type of spam way more prevalent. My guess is… yes.
Good, the profile I didn’t create
has been successfully created. Time to use all those faitures before I miss all the hot adults.
...I suppose I should be surprised it took them this time to turn it into spam. But mostly I’m just enraged. Though they are right. The government doesn’t want to help us and actively wants us dead.
Seat unsurprisingly is from the same
place, although it has a kind of different way to English. See, it showed up in
the thirteenth century from the Old Norsesaeti, seat. So, slightly different origin. But
that too is from Proto Germanic, in this case the word saet-, which is also from sed-. Also, seat kind of evolved by the
late thirteenth century to also mean an established place (i.e. a seat of power),
and because that could also be a residence, there are lots of English place
names that end in -set. Probably the most interesting use of seat is in
deep-seated. That word is much more recent than the other seats, having shown
up in 1741 meaning “having its root far below the surface”. Since seat could
mean an established place, a deep seat was a firmly established place. And
that’s the reason for that.
Set is also related, and also brings
in the weirdness of etymology we’ve all come to love. See, to set, as in to set
something down, is from the Old English settan, to set, establish, or place.
It’s from the Proto Germanic bisatejanan,
to sit/set, and that’s from the Proto Indo European sod-, a variant of sed-. But. A
set, as in a set of items, is not related.
It has a completely different origin! It’s from the Old Frenchsette, sequence, a variant of secte, religious community. You know,
like sect. It’s from the Medieval
Latinsecta, retinue, from the classical Latinsecta, a following. Yeah, a set of items
is a sect, not a set (down).
Finally today, we’ll look at settle.
It comes from the Old English setlan, to cause to sit, from setl, a seat (its definition actually ranged from a chair or throne to a butt!). It’s from
the Proto Germanic setla-, from the
Proto Indo European sedla-, another
offshoot of sed-.