Recently, I have found myself typing various words into Google with ‘etymology’ tacked onto the end. Etymology is the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.

I have found the results to be akin to digging amongst the dirt of everyday words and finding a few hidden gems every now and again. Sometimes it can be amazing how differently words have changed over the centuries. The older meanings often offer much more than our current use.

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Here are eleven words that have surprised me the most so far:

  1. A is for Achievement: The word achievement comes from the French verb achèvement/achever which actually acknowledges the ‘act of completing‘ or finishing something. The modern age has made achievement all about winning when instead we should focus on only one task at a time and consider it a big moment when we get to the finish line. Procrastination is the enemy of achievement.
  2. C is for Calorie: The word “calorie” comes from the Latin word “calor” meaning heat. Imagine your body as a wood burning stove and look closer at when you eat, how much you eat and what fuel choices you make to see how they affect your fuel efficiency. Retaining energy and body weight can follow the same principles that come with tending to a fire.
  3. D is for Destiny: Destiny comes from the Latin word ‘destinata‘ meaning to make firm or establish. Who decides your destiny? Is it already predetermined and unchangeable? Or do you have a choice to establish and strengthen the direction of your future? Your own personal philosophy and beliefs will determine your destiny.
  4. D is also for Disaster: Disaster comes from the Italian language. ‘Astro‘ is the Italian word for star. Dis- implies the negative. A disaster then is seen as a time when your stars go against you. Maybe pay more attention to your horoscope the next time!
  5. E is for Enthusiasm. Apparently it has its origins in the Greek language and means to be inspired or ‘possessed by a god‘ The next time you enthusiastically do something, thank the heavens for that extra bit of energy.
  6. E is also for Extravagant. Note the presence of “vagrant” coming from the Latin verb “vagari” meaning to wander. Extra comes from Latin meaning “outside.” In the pursuit of adventure or a new perspective, a curious wanderer explores that which is outside ‘normal’ thinking. All the greats did this when they stepped outside conventionally accepted norms to create new pathways.
  7. I is for Infinite. This comes from the Latin “infinitus”, with the prefix in- meaning ‘not’ and finitus meaning ‘finished.’ Consider what we label as infinite in the known universe and instead of focusing on a large size or number instead ponder what the finish looks like…
  8. I is also for Inspiration. It has its roots in Greek, Latin & old French/English. It means to have your heart and/or mind filled with God or a godlike energy. A (holy) spirit is in you. Maybe fate or a random event inspires you to do something. Maybe its the feel of a place, certain words or piece of music. Find your inspiration and use it to fuel yourself.
  9. P is for Patience. If you made it this far down the article, well done! The word ‘patience’ has its roots in the Latin verb ‘pati’ meaning ‘to suffer.’ The next time you employ some patience, ask yourself is the suffering making you stronger or wearing you down? What are you choosing?
  10. P is also for Philosophy. Did you know that the word philosophy comes from Greek meaning the ‘love of wisdom’? In my opinion, philosophy is a grossly underrated subject that everyone should consider engaging with much more than they do. Many philosophical concepts are great conversation starters!
  11. W is for Worry. The word ‘worry’ has its roots in the West Germanic/Old English language. It began life as ‘wyrgan‘ meaning ‘to strangle.’ Quite apt when you consider how our worries can often take hold of us.

Did you enjoy reading this article? If so, follow the conversation and word study on Twitter @MrBookChief or please share  some words of your own.