Fun Etymology Tuesday – Robot

Hello, protocol-compliant friends! My system clock indicates it’s Tuesday, and that means a new Fun Etymology must be outputted!

Today’s word is “robot”!

We are very familiar with this word today, both from science fiction and, increasingly, in our everyday lives. Our cars are mostly built by robots, and some of us have tiny robots cleaning their floors.
But did you know that this word did not originate in a computer lab, but in the theatre?

The word “robot” was coined by the Czech playwright Karel Capek for his 1920 play “R.U.R.” (Rossum’s Universal Robots). It is a deeivation of the Czech word “robota”, meaning “hard labour”, from Proto-Slavic “*orbu”, itself from PIE *orbh-, the same root that gave us the german word “Arbeit”, “work”.

I’m afraid the fact that the word “robot” basically means “slave” will not work in our favour during the Great Robot Uprising of 2037.

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