Thursday, February 27, 2020

Language of Confusion: Part II

Something about “Part, Part II” seemed kind of ridiculous.

Anyway! Today we’re looking at words that begin with part, which comes from the Proto Indo European pere-, to grant or allot.

First, party. In the sense of a party of people, it showed up in the fourteenth century, but back then it meant a part/section/portion, which is not something we really use anymore. From there it evolved to a party, as in a group of people, and it didn’t mean a party you throw for fun until 1716 (it wasn’t a verb, like to party, until 1922, which… yeah, that sounds like the 1920s). As for its history, party comes from the Old French partie, which meant a part or portion, like party originally did in English. Its verb form is partir, to divide, from the classical Latin partire/partiri, which means to share ordivide. That’s related to pars, part in Latin, which we talked about last week and is from pere-.

Next, partner showed up in the fourteenth century, although back then it was spelled partiner, which was also spelled parcener. That comes from the Old French parçonier, partner, from parçon, partition or portion, and that’s from the classical Latin partitionem, which, you know, partition. Partition itself showed up in the fifteenth century as particioun, from the Old French particion, which is another descendant of partitionem, pars, and pere-. We can also throw partisan in there, although it’s relatively newer, having shown up in the mid sixteenth century. It’s from the Middle French partisan, from the classical Latin partem, part, which is again from pars.

There are also part words that have dropped the T, like parse and parcel. Parse showed up in the mid sixteenth century as a grammatical term. It comes from the Middle English pars, part of speech, from the Old French pars, which is actually the plural of part, which means… part. And because everything about this one is super obvious, that pars is from the Latin pars. In slightly less duh origins, there’s also parcel, which showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning a portion or part of something. Basically, it went from a part of something, to a quantity of anything, to a quantity of goods in a package, to a package. It’s from the Old French parcele, and before that the Medieval Latin parcella and Vulgar Latin particella. That’s from the classical Latin particula, another word we talked about last week as being from pars and pere-.

How strangely sensible this one was.



  1. It doesn't appear we use many words that came from the thirteen hundreds and older. Why the departure?

  2. Isn't it cool we get to live through a '20s decade? I think that's cool.


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