Thursday, September 25, 2014

Language of Confusion: Noted

Notes are important! Like, ninety percent of what I do is making notes on things to change in my WIP. So it’s time to find out where that word comes from!

Ugh. Even I find that segue to be badly done.

The verb version of note, which I do all the time, showed up in the early thirteenth century. Like most words, it comes from Old French, in this case noter, which meant pretty much the same thing, just like the classical Latin version, notare/nota. It wasn’t until a century later that it also meant writing something down. Before that, it was just making a mental note, which kind of makes sense since back then not many people knew how to write. But we can’t forget the other kind of note, the one that’s used in music. That also comes from that Latin word nota, meaning both notes come from the same place.

There are other words with note in them, too. Denote showed up in the late sixteenth century. It comes from the Middle French dénoter and classical Latin denotare, which also means note because words are dumb in all languages. The notare of course comes from the notare that gave us note, while the de- means completely. So you’re not just taking note of it, you’re really taking note.

Next we have connote. It showed up in the late seventeenth century, coming from the Medieval Latin word connotare, mark along with. The word connotation actually showed up earlier, in the early sixteenth century, from the Medieval Latin connotationem. It’s a mix of the prefix com-, together, and notare, making the word “to mark along with”. It was a word commonly used in Latin logic (don’t ask me how, I’m just passing along what I read).

The final word we’re going to look at is annotate. It showed up in the early eighteenth century, although annotation showed up three centuries earlier. Annote also used to be a word—in fact, it showed up at the same time as annotation, but that particular word disappeared. It comes from the classical Latin annotare, another word for note. The prefix comes from ad-, which just means to. So it means to note. Or to to note.

TL; DR: Every word with note in it is just another flavor of note.



  1. Words are dumb in all languages - funny!

  2. Connotation's one of those words we really do not use much at all.

  3. Is it chocolate? I don't care if it's not chocolate.

  4. I'll remember to make a note of this. (Sorry, brain is functioning on too little sleep.)

  5. I'm seeing all sorts of notes, especially since I'm teaching these words right now.

  6. I love notes. I love notebooks especially. I have a notebook for each new project I work on. I jot down notes into the book as they come to me for future reference later. I love Scrivener for its note and comment feature, where I can leave myself passive aggressive notes to fix certain passages I'm dissatisfied with later on in revisions. Notes are great!


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