Thursday, June 14, 2018

Language of Confusion: -Ment, Part VI

I tell myself that I’m not going to do any more long series, but then I realize that doing a long series means I don’t have to come up with new ideas for a while. So, you know. There are benefits.

Anyway, this is the last one!

Implement showed up as a noun in the mid fifteenth century, but not a verb until the early eighteenth century. Oh, and back in the fifteenth century it meant “amount needed to complete repayment”, and when the verb first showed up it was mostly used in Scottish English law, where it meant fulfillment. The noun did quickly become a synonym for tool, but it’s still quite a departure from its original meaning. It comes from the Late Latin implementem, filling up, from the classical Latin verb implere, to complete or fulfill, a mix of in- (in, unsurprisingly) and plere, to fill, from the Proto Indo European pele-, to fill. So I guess an implement is something that fulfills some purpose?

Sentiment showed up in the late fourteenth century as sentement, which apparently we just had to tweak from the Old French sentement. It can be traced to the Medieval Latin sentimentum and classical Latin sentire, to feel, the origin word for sense. Well, at least this one was straightforward.

Torment showed up in the fourteenth century from the Old French torment (torture) and classical Latin tormentum, which could mean conflict, torture, or anguish. It’s from the verb torquere, to twist, from the Proto Indo European terkw-, which also means twist and I can’t look at without thinking of twerking. Is twerking torture? Perhaps.

Lament showed up in the mid-fifteenth century as a verb and in the late sixteenth as a noun, from the Middle French lament and classical Latin lamentum, which means wailing. Lamentation actually showed up earlier, in the late fourteenth century, from the Latin lamentationem, which also means wailing. The la- part of it is Proto Indo European meaning shout or cry, and it’s thought to be imitative. You know how we say a cat meows because that’s what the noise they make sounds like? That’s what imitative means. So apparently wailing people sound like “la”.

Moment showed up in the mid fourteenth century from the Old French moment and classical Latin momentum. Which, yes, is also where we get momentum. Momentum is actually a contraction of the word movimentum, which is from movere, to move, and that’s where move comes from, along with a bunch of other words that I’m not going to get into. Movere can be traced back to the Proto Indo European meuǝ-, to push away, so the origin of all movement is apparently trying to get away from something.

Rudiment showed up in the mid sixteenth century from the Middle French rudiment and classical Latin rudimentum, which could mean beginning or raw materials and other rudimentary stuff like that. It’s from the word rudis which means raw or… rude.

TL;DR: Latin liked the suffix -ment so now it’s everywhere in English.



  1. Twerk is definitely torture!

    We don't use the word implement that often anymore.

  2. Yes, twerking is torture. Luckily, when the kiddos dance in class, it's something different. (Why do middle schoolers randomly break into dance in class? I wish I knew.)


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