Thursday, April 18, 2024

Language Of Confusion: Armed, Part III

Still more words that are from the Proto Indo European ar-, to fit together. If you didn’t think last week was weird enough, here’s more for you.
First is order of all words. It showed up in the thirteenth century, but back then it referred specifically to a religious order. A century after that, it started to mean a rank in a community, then after another century a regular sequence, and another century after that it meant a command. It didn’t start to mean a food order until 1836, and a business order a year later. Amusingly enough, in order, as in organizing something, is older than most of these, having shown up in the fifteenth century, while out of order showed up a century after that. And we haven’t even looked at the etymology yet! It’s from the classical Latin ordinem, which meant order, but also a row or line or even the row of threads in a loom, and is from ordo, the noun form of order. That’s from the Proto Italic ordn-, which is from ar-, and I guess to fit together makes sense for things placed in rows, but what a journey.
Next, ordinary, which showed up in the fifteenth century from the Old French ordinarie. That’s from the classical Latin ordinarius, which, you know, just ordinary, and that’s also from ordo and ar-. I guess rows are ordinary?
Ordinance showed up in the fourteenth century, from the Old French ordenance and Medieval Latin ordinantia. That’s from the classical Latin ordinantem, they order, from the verb ordinare, to organize. And that’s from ordo, of course. Now, ordinance always had the meaning we use it as—decree—but in the fourteenth century, it also meant arrangement in rows, or war provisions or equipment. You know, like an ordnance. Ordnance is literally ordinance without the I, and it took on the meaning ordinance lost and then came to mean artillery.
Also related? Ornate. It showed up in the fifteenth century from the classical Latin ornatus, decorated. That’s from the verb ornare, to decorate, which is also from ordo. Ornate things are decorated, or “fitted out”. Ornament is actually older, having shown up in the thirteenth century from the Old French ornement and classical Latin ornamentum, which is just ornament and is from ornare.
That’s it for this week, but there are so many more ordo words to go.
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language
Dictionary of Medieval Latin


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