Thursday, June 25, 2020

Language of Confusion: Do-, Part I

Yes, another multi-parter! I love not having to come up with new ideas.

Now, I did do a while ago. But there’s also a prefix do-, coming from the Proto Indo European do-, meaning to give, that shows up in a ton of things. And that’s what we’re looking at. First, some words that actually have do- in them.

First, donor showed up in the mid fifteenth century, coming from the Anglo French donour and Old French donour. Those are from the classical Latin donatorem, which just means donor, from the verb donare, which is just donate or endow, and that is from the abovementioned do-. Donation’s origin is pretty similar, also showing up in the mid fifteenth century, although back then it was spelled donacioun because apparently people back then thought the T making a “sh” sound was stupid. It comes from the Old French donacion and classical Latin donationem, also from donare. But amusingly enough, donate actually didn’t show up until 1819, where it was formed from donation. I guess people didn’t donate back then, only endow.

And speaking of endow, it’s also from do-. Which makes sense, since do- means give. Endow showed up in the late fourteenth century as indowen, from the Anglo French endover, a mix of en- (in) and the Old French douer, endow. So it’s en-endow, I guess. Anyway, it’s from the classical Latin dotare, which like donare also just means endow. Yes, the Romans had two words for it. Dotare is also related to dos, which means dowry, and yes, that’s where dowry comes from. That word actually showed up in the fifteenth century in English, from the Anglo French dowarie and Old French doaire, then before that the Medieval Latin dotarium and then dotare.

Next, dose. It showed up in the early fifteenth century from the Old French dose and Medieval Latin dosis. That’s from the Greek dosis, a dose of medicine, from the verb didonai, to give, and that’s the one descended from do-. Wow, these words are making sense!

Speaking of medicine, antidote is also from do-. It showed up in the early fifteenth century, from the Middle French antidote and classical Latin antidote, which meant a remedy for poison. That’s also from Greek, from antidoton, antidote, and that one is from the verb antididonai, to give an antidote. And as you’ll notice, didonai is in there, too. The anti- means against, and since we already learned that didonai means to give, the word is to give against. In this case, against poison.

One more today, and this one is probably going to seem strange at first. Anecdote showed up in the late seventeenth century, from the French anecdote, meaning… anecdote. It’s from the Medieval Latin anecdota, from the Greek anekdotos, anecdote. The an- means not here, and the rest is ekdotos, which basically means published, so an anecdote is unpublished. The ek- in ekdotos means ex, out, and the dotos is from didonai. An anecdote is literally “to not give out”. I mean… I kind of get it, but not really.



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