Saturday, April 5, 2014

A-to-Z Challenge: Earn

I think I missed an opportunity to etymologize the word etymology. Oh well.

Today we’re going to learn to earn. Or, more accurately, learn about earn.

There’s no particular date when earn showed up in English. It’s just known to have come from the Old English earnian (same meaning). Before that, earn was aznojan in Proto Germanic, a variation of azna, labor. That azna can be traced back to the Proto Indo European aznon, which meant to serve or to do harvest work. Since work is how people earn a living, it’s easy to see why this word has this meaning.

See you on Monday!

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center


  1. Proto Germanic, Proto Indo European not as familiar to me as Old English is. Appreciate the lesson l-earn-ed!

  2. That's such a difference from proto-German!

  3. Analyzing the theme of your challenge. Now that's hardcore! :)

  4. The proto Germanic and proto Indo European are definitely far different from the Old English. I didn't know about that. Thanks for the educational post. I really love reading these.

  5. Earn always brings to mind labor.

  6. But I bet etymology is a longer post, right? You can always do it next month.

  7. I actually know something cool related to this subject! It's about the expression "to earn one's salt." Salt was such a precious commodity during the days of the Roman Empire that soldiers were sometimes paid with it instead of with money.

  8. It's really interesting to learn the history behind words.

    ~ Kim


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