History - Etymology

Etymology

A derivation from *weid- "know" or "see" is attested as "the reconstructed etymon wid-tor (compare to English wit) a suffixed zero-grade form of the PIE root *weid- 'see' and so is related to Greek eidénai, to know".

Ancient Greek ἱστορία (hístōr) means "inquiry","knowledge from inquiry", or "judge". It was in that sense that Aristotle used the word in his Περὶ Τὰ Ζῷα Ἱστορίαι (Perì Tà Zôa Ηistoríai "Inquiries about Animals"). The ancestor word ἵστωρ is attested early on in Homeric Hymns, Heraclitus, the Athenian ephebes' oath, and in Boiotic inscriptions (in a legal sense, either "judge" or "witness", or similar).

The word entered the English language in 1390 with the meaning of "relation of incidents, story". In Middle English, the meaning was "story" in general. The restriction to the meaning "record of past events" arises in the late 15th century. It was still in the Greek sense that Francis Bacon used the term in the late 16th century, when he wrote about "Natural History". For him, historia was "the knowledge of objects determined by space and time", that sort of knowledge provided by memory (while science was provided by reason, and poetry was provided by fantasy).

In an expression of the linguistic synthetic vs. analytic/isolating dichotomy, English like Chinese (史 vs. 诌) now designates separate words for human history and storytelling in general. In modern German, French, and most Germanic and Romance languages, which are solidly synthetic and highly inflected, the same word is still used to mean both "history" and "story".

The adjective historical is attested from 1661, and historic from 1669.

Historian in the sense of a "researcher of history" is attested from 1531. In all European languages, the substantive "history" is still used to mean both "what happened with men", and "the scholarly study of the happened", the latter sense sometimes distinguished with a capital letter, "History", or the word historiography.

Read more about this topic:  History

Other articles related to "etymology":

Passenger Pigeon - Taxonomy and Systematics - Etymology
... In the 18th century, the Passenger Pigeon in Europe was known to the French as tourtre but, in New France, the North American bird was called tourte ... In modern French, the bird is known as the pigeon migrateur ...
Kennesaw, Georgia - History - Etymology
... The name Kennesaw is derived from the Cherokee Indian word gah-nee-sah meaning cemetery, or burial ground. ...
Algae - Etymology and Study
... The etymology is obscure ... The etymology is uncertain, but a strong candidate has long been some word related to the Biblical פוך (pūk), "paint" (if not that word itself), a cosmetic eye-shadow used by the ancient ...
Zarphatic Language - Etymology
... Zarphatic was written using a variant of the Hebrew alphabet, and first appeared in the 11th century, in glosses to texts of the Hebrew Bible and Talmud written by the great rabbis Rashi and Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan ... Constant expulsions and persecutions, resulting in great waves of Jewish migration, brought about the extinction of this short-lived, but important, language by the end of the 14th century ...

Famous quotes containing the word etymology:

    The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.
    Giambattista Vico (1688–1744)

    Semantically, taste is rich and confusing, its etymology as odd and interesting as that of “style.” But while style—deriving from the stylus or pointed rod which Roman scribes used to make marks on wax tablets—suggests activity, taste is more passive.... Etymologically, the word we use derives from the Old French, meaning touch or feel, a sense that is preserved in the current Italian word for a keyboard, tastiera.
    Stephen Bayley, British historian, art critic. “Taste: The Story of an Idea,” Taste: The Secret Meaning of Things, Random House (1991)