Thursday, April 10, 2014

A-to-Z Challenge: Ill

Sorry about it being late! For some reason I had this set to post this afternoon instead of this morning!


Ill!

When ill first showed up in the early thirteenth century, it had nothing to do with health. Back then, it was just evil, hurtful, difficult, or unfortunate. The “unwell” sense of the word didn’t show up until the mid-fifteenth century, over two hundred years later, possibly changing meanings due to the influence of an Old Norse idiom. Old Norse is actually where we get the word from; it’s illr in that language, and that’s as far back as the word can be traced. And I don’t know if this needs to be said, but ill has nothing to do with words like illegal or illicit. The il- prefix there actually comes from the word in-. They just dropped the n.

Coincidence is never more prevalent than in looking up the histories of words.

Sources

15 comments:

  1. So technically it should be nillegal?

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  2. It's intriguing that the word and the prefix have nothing to do with one another.

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  3. I knew that word was evil. I just knew it! :)

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  4. I think it should be inlegal if that's the etymology. Weird....

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  5. You're going to end up revolutionizing the English language by the end of the month. =)

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  6. Iiir sounds like Icelandic or some kind of norse origin. In fact, we have the same word in some dialects, and in the form "ille" which means bad >:)

    Cold As Heaven

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  7. I recall hearing the word used in the sense of evil or bad, so it's not a surprise that it would have that root.

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  8. I can certainly see how "evil, hurtful, difficult, or unfortunate" got to sick. But, nillicit? Really??

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  9. Well, of course. Before there was a theory of disease, people thought diseases were caused by evil spirits.

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  10. The fact that the word and the prefix have completely different roots is interesting. You come up with the most fascinating things to share on your blog.

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  11. Sorry for the late comment, been nill all day:(

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  12. interesting...love the history of words :)

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  13. Interesting that it comes from that. I did think it was related to il-.

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  14. That's intriguing! Thanks for sharing this awesome information!

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  15. I'd just gotten over being unwell, and while in that state, I was feeling unfortunate and probably a very difficult person to be around. :-)

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Please validate me.