Thursday, November 5, 2020

Language Of Confusion: Entrance

Once again redoing an old post, because I really don’t feel like thinking up a new idea. Can you blame me?
I think the reason I first looked at this word was because it bugged me that it had two different meanings, was pronounced two different ways, but spelled the same. Yes, stupid things bother me. You should be well aware of this by now. Frankly, looking at the etymology makes me even more annoyed because the reason those two words are spelled the same is nothing but coincidence.
Entrance—like the thing you go in a room through—showed up in the early sixteenth century, from the Middle French entrance, from the verb entrer, to enter. Enter, the verb, showed up earlier, in the late thirteenth century, as entren, and while it meant enter as we’d use it, it also meant to join a group or society. That’s from entrer, which is from the classical Latin intrare, which is just to enter. It’s from intra, within, which can be traced to the Proto Indo European enter, between or among. Wow. Through all those centuries and languages, it goes from enter in PIE to enter in English. We actually got something right!
As for the other entrance, to put in a trance, it showed up in the late sixteenth century, a mix of the prefix en-, put in, and trance, which I suppose is why the word is entrance. Trance showed up in the late fourteenth century, and in addition to the meaning we use it as, it also meant a state of extreme dread—so I guess that means I’m entranced right now. It’s from the Old French transe, fear of coming evil, a coma, or the state of dying. That’s from the verb transir, which meant to die or to be numb with fear, from the classical Latin transire, to cross over. It’s actually another prefix, with trans- meaning across or beyond and -ire meaning to go, which can be traced from the Proto Indo European ei-, also to go. To trance is “to go across”. To entrance is to make someone go across.

This one really turned out to be oddly appropriate for the times…


  1. You don't hear the second one often so I never thought about them having such different meanings and origins.

  2. I guess it makes sense that they have different origins. I'm actually surprised we don't have more words like this - spelled the same but pronounced differently and with different meanings.

  3. huh
    So a coma is a trance.
    I'm sure I can use that somewhere.

  4. Just imagine if we went back to pictograms, how much more confusing it would all be.


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