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.

Etymology of Electricity

The word electricity derives from New Latin and ultimately ancient Greek. It first appears in English in Francis Bacon's writings and the word electric was first used by the physician Sir Tomas Browne (1605-1682).

The New Latin adjective electricus, literally "resembling amber", was first used to refer to amber's attractive properties by William Gilbert in his 1600 text De Magnete. The term came from the classical Latin electrum (amber), from the Greek ἤλεκτρον ( Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus) with the same meaning but also as "pale gold" (a compound of 1 part silver to 4 of gold). The origin of the Greek word is unknown, but there is speculation that it might have come from a Phoenician word elēkrŏn, meaning 'shining light'.

The word electrical or electric usually described substances that, like amber, attract other substances when rubbed. Meaning "charged with electricity" is from the 1670s; the physical force is so-called because it first was generated by rubbing amber. In many modern instances, the word is short for electrical. Figurative sense is attested by 1793. Electric light is from 1767. Electric toothbrush first recorded in 1936; electric blanket in 1930. Electric typewriter is from 1958. Electric guitar is from 1938; electric organ coined as the name of a hypothetical future instrument in 1885.

Nowadays, depending on the context, the word may refer to "electric charge", "electric power" or "electric energy". So, have you already recalled the last time you used the word electricity or electric? And did you know, back then what were you referring to? Well, know you most probably know, which is in a way a bio-electrical process.

See you again on our next etymological adventure!

Sources: Wikipedia,

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Wednesday, 20 October 2021

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