Whoo, this one is still going. Look,
there are a lot of words that come from the Proto Indo European sed-
, to sit
. Some of them even have to do with sitting! Not so much this week, though.
You know what’s from sed-? Séance.
Not making that up. It showed up in 1789
meaning a sitting or session, (not meaning the spiritualist thing until 1845)
from the French séance
, which means
The verb form is seoir
, to sit
from the classical Latin sedere
, which as I’ve mentioned every
week means to sit
and is from sed-. So it means session, and spiritualists decided to use it
probably because French was fancy.
Next, siege, which makes sense since
I mentioned last week how sess- are related siege. Now we can look at the word
itself. It showed up in the early thirteenth century
just meaning a seat. Apparently because an attacking army would be “sitting
down” in front of a fortress, the word came to be used in a militaristic sense,
which then morphed it to the definition we use for it. Anyway, it’s from the Old French
, seat or throne, from the Vulgar
, seat. And that
one’s from sedere, so there’s that.
That one kind of made sense, right?
Well, how about size? Yes, really. It showed up in the fourteenth century
meaning an ordinance to fix the amount of a payment or tax. Seriously. See, in from
the Old French sise
, and that word is
actually short for assise
assessment, regulation, or manner. That’s from the verb asseoir
(looks like seoir, doesn’t it?), which means to cause to
sit. You know how you size something up? That’s what it means. In English, it
became the amount/volume of something, and in the late sixteenth century meant
the dimensions of something for sale, then shortly after that it became to make
something a certain size or classify by size. But asseoir is from the classical
, to sit
beside, which I actually mentioned last week as being the origin of assess. The
ad- means to, and the rest is from sedere, and the word means “to sit next to”.
Yeah. None of this makes sense.
And now soil, because this has to
keep getting weirder. Soil showed up in the early thirteenth century
first as a verb meaning to pollute with sin and then later as a noun meaning
land. The verb is from the Old French soillier
to splatter with mud, from souil
pigsty or wallow. That’s from Latin, either the word solium
, seat or bath tub
or from suculus
The noun has a slightly different origin, coming from the Anglo
, piece of ground,
from the Old French words sol
or soil, and soeul/sueil
, area or
place. It’s the latter word that’s from solium, which means it’s also from
sed-, meaning soil has four possible origin words, two of which aren’t related.
But maybe they are!
Now for something slightly
different. Soot doesn’t have any French of Latin in it at all, but it’s still
from sed-! It comes from
the Old English sot
, soot, from the Proto
, also soot,
basically meaning something that settles down, which I guess soot does. That
word is from the Proto Indo European sodo-
which is a suffix form of sed-. So because soot settles, it’s soot. I think
that might be the only sed- word that’s Germanic in origin. Isn’t that weird?
Finally today is see. But not see
like you looking at stuff. There’s another one. Have you ever heard of
something, like the Vatican, referred to as a “Holy see”? That
version of see is unique in origin. It showed up in the
meaning the throne of
a bishop, archbishop, or pope. It’s from the Old French sie
, seat or throne, from the classical Latin sedem
which of course is from sedere and sed-. It being a homonym for see is just one