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A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

The Hidden Troves of Etymology

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What does paradigm mean?

Nowadays, we use the word paradigm with a very specialized meaning – to denote a given school of thought, way of thinking, or tendency. A bit more formal definition could be - "Logical or conceptual structure or pattern, which serves as a form, example of thought within a given sphere of experience or scientific field." Once again, we could see how a word could develop quite subtle and distinct connotations. But where does paradigm come from and how come it was given such a specified meaning?

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The Hidden Troves of Etymology

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What does Synaesthesia mean?

Have you heard about the term synesthesia? If you haven't, the time has come. From a neuropsychological trait to a literary device, it has a wide range of meanings. Generally, synaesthesia indicates an interplay between the senses, when the information registered by one of the senses simultaneously affects one or more of the others. For example, it is the situation when you had a visual impression of sound or a tactile experience of an odor.

 It is estimated that synaesthesia is a genetically linked trait that affects from 2 to 5 percent of the general population. Aside from synaesthetes, which are experiencing it involuntarily, many artists and poets have deliberately applied various practices to attain such psychological conditions. Thus they would achieve a certain creative outcome. However, we use such synaesthetic expressions in our everyday speech, such as "a cold eye," "a burning view," "a soft wind," "a hard voice," etc.

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The hidden troves of etymology

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The alchemy of lexis

Could you imagine today's world without the word culture? What will you use instead of it? Civilization, habits, folklore, society, or way of life? Well, all of them are representing just a single connotation, an aspect of the above-mentioned word and its meaning. The thing is that each word has its specific perspective towards the world, and rarely, let's not say never, can be fully replaced. That statement is even more accurate when we consider such a widespread and convenient notion as culture. Following that idea, we could picture why broadening our vocabulary is so important.

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What does Enantiodromia mean?

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Easy words,... difficult words...

Often, we hear words that seem to be incomprehensible or terms used by philosophers or scientists that are condemned as abstract or unearthly. There is a tendency, which praises the simplicity of popular language. Of course, if something cannot be described in a common and natural way, it raises suspicion. However, specialized scientific terms have their irreplaceable role in expressing exact notions and processes. Thereby, when mentioning words like apperception, transcendental, ontology, quantum continuum, etc., scientists (but not only,) are addressing certain phenomena that are hard to be described in simple words, or appear as vague as the terms themselves, if we use metaphors or some other literary device.

Here we've got one useful instrument for interpretation called hermeneutics – another foggy notion. In fact, it is not so difficult to understand that one. In our case, it is just to search for the definition or etymology of a given term and then put it into its specific context.

Today, we're going to take a look at the word enantiodromia. Have you heard that one, well, you could already say yes!

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The Hidden Troves of Etymology

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What are the origins of the name Europe?

Often, we do not ask ourselves for the origins of words that we use on a daily basis. That is especially valid, for the most common ones like the names of days, months, and countries? That applies to the same degree when speaking about the continents although they are only seven. Today, we are going to take a look at a name we all have heard – Europe.

 We find it recorded first in a Homeric hymn to Apollo from 522 B.C.E. or earlier. It says: "Telphusa, here I am minded to make a glorious temple, an oracle for men, and hither they will always bring perfect hecatombs, both those who live in rich Peloponnesus and those of Europe and all the wave-washed isles, coming to seek oracles." 

But what are the etymological roots of the word? It is widely considered that, as above-mentioned, Europe derives from the Ancient Greek language. It consists of two morphemes: urys "wide" + ops "face," or "eye", literally "broad face," or "wide-gazing" as a suitable description of Europe's mainland and broad shoreline as seen from the shipboard perspective of the maritime Greeks.

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The Secret Troves of Etymology: Symbol

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What does symbol mean?

We use a lot of words daily, we know what they mean in a particular case, however, once we go deeper into their meaning, we begin to lose ground under our feet. Here comes the help from Etymology. Some of the most abstract words we use today derive from natural or everyday life objects. For example, the word matter comes from the Latinmateria, which among other things, means "hard inner wood of a tree." Another one is the word electricitythat comes from the Greek ēlektron, which means "amber", or the word energy, which originates from the ancient Greek enérgon -"being active, into activity, working". The world of words is full of surprises, and the best aspect of that is that each one reveals an entirely new perspective towards what is known. Today, we will search for the elucidating history behind another one of these words –symbol.

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The Secret Troves of Etymology

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The Evolution of Words and Meanings

Words have their own history, which is as revealing and profound for the meaning they bring as, for example, the discovery of electricity for the rapid advancement of modern technology. Each step that language has made through the years left its footprint. A word is a bouquet of various senses and a multitude of connections with other words that eventually produces not only a notion of something but a feeling, imagery. Have you ever thought how is it possible that a given word describes its object so good, how irreplaceable it sounds? Well, it is not only that we have made a convention out of it. It is also the gradual sculpturing of meaning over and over through the centuries. Even though we are not always aware of all these transformations, we have adopted them when we learned to use language. It is a network that is erected upon a huge underground structure of nuances, contexts, and connotations, which are present although implicitly. When we use a word we give rise to a tremendous chain of meanings, that makes us perceive things in one way or another. Today, we will follow the long and captivating adventure of the word cosmos, which has always sounded so beautiful to me, and it turned out it has something to do with beauty.

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The secret troves of etymology

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Etymology of the word concert

There are many words that we daily use, words for which meaning we are sure of, and never ask where they come from. One of them is the word concert. I have no doubts that you all know that word and most probably you have used it recently. Well, of course, a concert means a public group (or solo) musical performance, a musical show. But what are the roots of that rather common word, where does it come from originally? Well, it turns out that the noun concert has a curious story.

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Secret Troves of Etymology

20220111-115102yuyeung-lau-lr5mTjURI5c-unsplash Credit: Unsplash by Yuyeung Lau

Credit: Unsplash by Yuyeung Lau  

Where does the word robot come from?

If you type the word robot in any search engine today, it appears to be one of the most popular and used terms in the world. Of course, this is not very surprising. Every day, we hear about some new development, technological device, or application, which is called a robot. The word is closely related to another viral word – Artificial Intelligence – which caused it to be even more popular. It became common to think about the future as vastly inhabited by robots who (it depends on the person's mental inclinations) are either greatly beneficial for humankind or enormously threatening for us. Well, most probably, we should regard it both ways. However, the situation is such, that even 4 years old children know, more or less, what a robot is. But from what source we have adopted that word, what does it actually mean, and what are its implications? If you haven't asked yourself, so far, now is the time to consider doing it. Here you can read a short etymology of the word and ponder over it. Enjoy!

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Four essential terms to understand evolution theory better

20220118-113659eugene-zhyvchik-xJY-7gtC38o-unsplash Credit: Unsplash by Eugene Zhyvchik

Credit: Unsplash by Eugene Zhyvchik  

Phylogenesis, ontogenesis, ethnogenesis, and sociogenesis

1. phylogeny (phylogenesis), the history of the evolution of a species or group, especially in reference to lines of descent and relationships among broad groups of organisms. Fundamental to phylogeny is the proposition, universally accepted in the scientific community, that plants or animals of different species descended from common ancestors.

Source: Britannica.com

2. ontogeny (ontogenesis), all the developmental events that occur during the existence of a living organism. Ontogeny begins with the changes in the egg at the time of fertilization and includes developmental events to the time of birth or hatching and afterward—growth, remolding of body shape, and development of secondary sexual characteristics.

Source: Britannica.com

3. Ethnogenesis (from Greek ethnos ἔθνος, "group of people, nation" and genesis γένεσις, "beginning, coming into being"; plural ethnogeneses) is "the formation and development of an ethnic group". This can originate through a process of group self-identification as well as come about as the result of outside identification.

The term ethnogenesis, a mid-20th century neologism, refers to the observable phenomenon of the emergence of new social groups that are identified as having a cohesive identity, i.e. an "ethnic group" in anthropological terms. Relevant social sciences not only observe this phenomenon but search for explanation of its causes. The term ethnogeny is also used as a variant of ethnogenesis.

Source: Wikipedia

4. Sociogeny (French: sociogénie, from the Latin socius, i.e., "association" or "social," and the Greek γένεσις, denoting "origin, source, beginning, nativity, generation, production, or creation") or sociogenesis is the development of a social phenomenon. That a phenomenon is sociogenetic thus indicates that it is socially produced, as opposed to ontologically given, immutable, or static. The concept was developed by Frantz Fanon in his 1952 book Black Skin, White Masks.

Source: Wikipedia

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The hidden troves of etymology

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The word science

What do you imagine when you hear the word science? Isn't it people with white uniforms, peering into microscopes, surrounded by complicated machines and computers, checking statistics, and conducting complex experiments. Truly, that's part of its modern usage. But what does the word science actually mean, where does it come from? Maybe, some additional connotations could shed some light on the hidden processes that stand behind the visible action. As one could expect, this word has a long story that lays beneath it. Let's follow its history and see if there is something that we miss from first sight.

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The Secret Troves of Etymology

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Our world is made out of words

Language is all around us. It is everywhere and in everything. It constructs our culture and makes us human beings. You could find it even in places where you wouldn't expect and that's natural because we understand the world's phenomena through it. We can see its patterns in each particular thing since our mind process information like that. And it is a handy thing. We communicate very complex ideas thanks to it. Today, we will take a look at the origins of one remarkably famous and somehow obscure word – metaphysics. Its power stays hidden behind the prefix meta-, which could be used with a multitude of words like meta-language, meta-text, meta-history, or as we can see from the most recent usage – meta-verse (the virtual universe). 

Below you can see the extraordinary etymological story of the word meta-physics.

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The Secret Troves of Etymology

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Etymology of the word Electricity

Have you ever wondered, which are the origins of the word Electricity? Is it coined especially for its modern usage? Had it been applied for other meanings in the past, as is the case with many other terms? My experience with searching the meaning and origins of words shows that the more common and used is a word in everyday conversations, the less we ask questions about it. As a result, we could easily find ourselves in the paradoxical situation of not knowing the real meaning of words we use on regular basis. And even more, a situation, in which most of the other people we are speaking to, don't know it too, though they, more or less, understand what we mean. So, let us dive once again into the puzzling world of language and its organic development through the years.


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The secret troves of Etymology

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The word Method

One of the most commonly used words in the field of Science is method. Nowadays, we literally can't imagine how we could conduct an experiment or draw a conclusion without following some method. And not only in scholarly discourse but in everyday use, you can often hear someone describing another person or activity as being methodical or as lacking methodology. But what are the origins of this word, and how come it became so popular?


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The Secret Troves of Etymology

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The word Energy

Energy is one of those words that most of us use on a daily basis. It has both everyday and scholarly meanings. We all know what does it mean and yet that could really mislead us whenever we are trying to examine the full range of its connotations and its origins. Let's set out on a trip towards the roots of one of the most common words today.

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The secret troves of Etymology

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Wednesday – the day of Odin

For most of us, Wednesday is just yet another day in the middle of the working week. We seldom ask ourselves what are the meaning and the origins of words that we are used to. Especially, the names of the days, months, countries, planets, constellations, etc. They are laid so deep in our memories and consciousness that we take them for granted. However, each name has its semantic roots and historical background. And believe me, most of the time they are truly amazing and unpredictable. Today, we will follow a bit from the story of one really common name – Wednesday.

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