Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Daily Hump: Sooth

The ides of March, a date that will live in infamy (at least for members of the gens Julia). For it's on this day that Gaius Julius Caesar, from the Caesarian section of Rome, was slain by a gaggle of senators which included among them supposed bff Brutus. Of course, Caesar got a pretty good heads up from one Titus Vestricius Spurinna whose name may not be well known but job title surely is: soothsayer. Alas, Titus's warnings were not heeded and the world took receipt of one very dead emperor 2,051 years ago today.

Sooth comes from the Old English soð meaning "truth". Soð is the noun form of the adjective soþ, "true", which was originally *sonþ- and from the Proto-Germanic *santhaz (not to be confused with the Proto-Germanic sexual practice known as dirty *santhaz), a cognate with Old English synn "sin" and Latin sontis "guilty". Ultimately, we go back to the Proto-Indo-European *es-ont meaning "being, existence". This also is the root of today's s-forms of the verb "to be" such as the Latin sunt, German sind and French sont.

Sooth is also a linguistic cousin of soothe, which came from the Old English soðian "show to be true". How this came to mean "to quiet, mollify" beats me. Any ideas?

sooth [Online Etymology Dictionary]
soothe [Online Etymology Dictionary]
Ides of March [Wikipedia]
Julius Caesar [Wikipedia]
Titus Vestricius Spurinna [Wikipedia]

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:: posted by David, 9:00 AM


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