Thursday, January 11, 2018

Language of Confusion: Legs, Part I

Not like legs, but logos. Except legs. You’ll see what Im getting at in a minute.

Logo, like what businesses use, is (probably) just short for logogram, which meant a sign or a character representing a word when it showed up in 1840 (it didn’t mean what we call a logo until a century later). It’s a combination of logo- and -gram…so yeah, kind of recursive there. So what is logo-? Or, before vowels, log-?

Logo means speech or word, coming from the Greek logos, word, discourse or reason. It can be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European leg- (hence the title), which means collect or gather and is one of those words with a huge amount of offshoots.

First, the suffix -logy, which is part of words like apology, anything that ends in -logue, and pretty much every field of study (biology, geology, etymology, for crying out loud). Which makes sense since it means discourse, theory, or science. It came to us from the Medieval Latin -logia and the Greek -logia, from legein, to speak. Then there’s words with lect in them, and…

The point is, this is going to be a loooooooong series.



  1. We don't even use it as speech or word anymore.

  2. So you're saying this series has legs...

  3. Aw, Andrew beat me to my comment. Sigh. (I always thought -ology meant "study of". I guess it was a bit more complex than that.)


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