Fun Etymology Tuesday – Heresy

We’re back – and we’re even on time this week!

Today’s word: heresy!

From Old French heresie, eresie, this word came to English during the early 13th century and was once described by Samuel Johnson as “an opinion of private men different from that of the catholick and orthodox church”. But that’s not what it used to mean!

From Latin hæresis, meaning school of though or philosophical sect, the word came to Latin from Greek hairesis, meaning a taking or choosing for oneself, a choice, a deliberate plan, purpose, philosophical sect or school. This, in turn, care from haireisthai, meaning take or seize, middle voice of hairein, meaning to choose.

Here’s the fun part: did you know that this word may be a cognate of Hittite šaru and Welsh herw, meaning booty? We sure didn’t!

Now that you’ve got your Tuesday fun – a bit of important information for you: the HLC goes on vacation! Don’t worry – FunEty and Patron Saint will keep popping up in your feed but the blog will ease back a bit and you will get your linguistic treats once a month during July and August instead of every week! We’re sorry, but even linguists need vacation (actually, it’s because we all have an absolutely insane summer filled with work)!

Next post will appear next week, on Thursday 11th! Join us then for more linguistic facts!

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