Okay, enough blathering on sex and violence in media. I could go on for days about it but have a feeling my friend count would drop to those who have forgotten they have Google accounts.
Today, I'm going back to the origins of this whole series, when I commented about the way we can pronounce two words that are spelled the same in two completely different ways. This time, it’s minute and minute. The first one is a tiny point, the second a tiny point in time. But they are pronounced differently (my-noote and min-utt).
Minute—one sixtieth of an hour minute—comes from Old French minut, which in turn comes from Medieval Latin (eighth to sixteenth century written Latin) minuta. According to the Online Etymology dictionary, it means “a short note,” although other sources refer to it as “to grow smaller.” Minuta is a feminized word from the Latin (as in, the language used before the fourth century) minutus, which appropriately enough means small.
Very appropriately if you look at the other minute. It first showed up in the early fifteenth century, decades after the time minute’s arrival in the late fourteenth century. The word for small also came from the Latin minutus, the past participle of minuere—lessen.
Although in English, the time minute came first, that does not seem to be the case for the Classical Latin version. If you go way back to the Romans, who followed the Babylonian base 60 divisions. They called one sixtieth part pars minuta prima (the first small part) and one sixtieth of that pars minuta secunda (the second small part). So a little bonus etymology for you: why we call one sixtieth of a minute a “second.”
Thanks to the Online Etymology Dictionary (big surprise).
Also thanks to:
“How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement.” by Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.