Fun Etymology Tuesday – Genuine

It’s (one of) our favourite day(s) again – time for some FunEty!

Today’s word is “genuine”!

As you may have guessed, this word comes to English from the Latin word “genuinus”, meaning native, natural or innate. This Latin form comes from the root “gignere”, meaning to beget or produce, which in turn comes from the PIE root *gene-, meaning to give birth or beget. It may, perhaps, have been influenced by the contrasting form “adulterinus”, meaning spurious.

Coming to English in the sense of natural or not acquired in the 1590s, it isn’t recorded with the meaning of “really proceeding from its reputed source” until the 1660s.

Here’s the twist to today’s FunEty, though: rather than the origin outlined above, an alternative etymology has been suggested! In this origin-story, it is suggested that the Latin root is actually “genu”, meaning knee, from a supposed ancient custom of acknowledging paternity of a babe by the father placing the child on his knee!

That’s it for today! See you next week!

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