or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, November 17, 2006

Now Look Here

This really happened.

I was looking up a few things in preparation to write on my other blog about a scent called "Envy for Men", which I was wearing at the time, because I can never write about scents without being able to smell them. Some time passed. I was doing some other stuff and reading some other unrelated web pages and thinking about getting ready to go to work and a word popped into my head, "invidious", and I began thinking about what it might mean as I headed off to work. I continued pondering it throughout the day: it was obvious that it was Latin and it seemed possible that it was a compound of "in-" (though whether that meant "not" or "in/on" or was acting as an intensifier I couldn't yet tell) and "videre", "to see", although I couldn't quite understand why, since "invidious" means "generating animosity", more or less, and I couldn't imagine how it might have come from a verb meaning "to see".

So when I got home, I looked it up, and it was the damnedest thing: "invidious" actually comes from the word "envy"! Did I accidentally see the word "invidious" when I was looking up "Envy for Men", or did I know in the back of my head that "invidious" also means "envious", or what?

I still don't know. But it gets even better: "envy" comes, as you might guess, from the French "envie", with the same meaning, and "envie" comes from Latin "invidus", "envious", and "invidus" comes from..."in" plus "videre"! It really does!

The compound "invidere" in Latin meant "to look upon with envy", and, as the original components would indicate, its original components simply meant "to look at". I'm not sure how this fascinating semantic leap might have happened: perhaps if you look at something long enough, you begin to covet it, and envy the person who has it while you don't.


Post a Comment

<< Home