The many “sist”-ers of persist and resist

Persist and resist come from a very active, and in many ways activist, Latin verb. 

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after he silenced his colleague, Elizabeth Warren, when she was opposing now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation.

But McConnell’s words spectacularly backfired: Nevertheless, she persisted has since become a rousing, much-memed feminist slogan, fitting perfectly alongside the anti-Trump rally cry, Resist.

And persist fits etymologically alongside resist, too. They share a common root: Latin’s sistere, “to take a stand.”

Sistere is one Latin verb that won’t back down in the English language.  Image by Michael Kaufmann/

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What is the “tray” in “betray”?

Betray shares its root with treason and tradition

Over concerns of its wisdom, justness, and legality, acting US attorney general Sally Yates nobly defied President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants, including refugees and visa-holders, from seven Muslim-majority countries. On Monday night, Trump fired her, claiming Yates “betrayed the Department of Justice.” It’s a strong, and deeply ironic, choice of words here, to say the least, but where does the word betray come from?

The tray in betray comes from a Latin verb meaning “to hand over.” Image courtesy of
The tray in betray comes from a Latin verb meaning “to hand over.” Image courtesy of

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What is the “vice” in “vice president”?

In what many are calling a last-ditch effort to shake up the campaign, this week Ted Cruz announced former Republican presidential candidate and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential nominee should he win his party’s nomination.

For many, Cruz’s pick is raising lots of questions, given that it’s now mathematically impossible for him to win the nomination outright. But there’s one big question whose answer I’d really like to know: What is the vice in vice president?

The many virtues of vice   

We often poke fun of the second-place office, but the vice presidency is an important one: It’s a heartbeat away from the presidency, as candidates consider when vetting their running mates.

The etymology of the title bears out the importance of the vice presidency: in Latin, vice means “in place of” or “in succession to.” For example, when the president sends the second-in-command to an important state function, the vice president is standing in place of – representing – the president at the event.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) first cites vice-president in 1574, when “Sergius the Vice-president of Asia” must have really balanced out the ticket. This vice- technically functions as a prefix; the U.S. Constitution’s use of Vice President may obscure vice’s original grammatical role. The abbreviation V.P. is cited by 1887, the colloquial veep by 1949.

A screenshot of the first appearance of “Vice President” in the U.S. Constitution, in Article I, Section 3.

The earliest vice the OED finds is vice-collector, which it dates to 1497. (And you thought substitute teachers had it bad. Good thing we don’t call them “vice-teachers.”) The prefix proliferated in the 17th and 18th centuries, titling the likes of vice-apostle, vice-butler, vice-Christ, vice-husband, and vice-viceroy. A vice-viceroy was an official serving in place of the viceroy, who served in place of the monarch (French roi, “king”) in a colony, for instance. Old French at one point rendered Latin’s vice as vis-, which survives in English’s phonetically challenging viscount.

Latin’s vice is a form (the ablative case) of the noun vicis, which meant a “change,” “turn,” “succession,” or “place,” hence vice’s “in place of.” The word also appears in the adverbial phrase vice versa, a construction (the ablative absolute) literally meaning “the place having been turned.”

A vicar originally served in place of a parish priest. Parents live vicariously through their children’s endeavors. The vicissitudes of life are its constant and unpredictable changes. All of these words feature, at root, Latin’s vicis.

After Cruz made news with his pick for Number Two, many, like former Speaker John Boehner, have attacked Cruz’ vices. Others, meanwhile, think Carly Fiorina will bring out Trump’s own vices – and viciously bring it to the frontrunner. This vice, and its adjective, vicious, are not related. The root is Latin’s vitium, a “fault,” “defect,” or “offense,” source of the verb vitiate.

Changing vice’s ways

Vicis has some notable Germanic cousins. They demonstrate quite the change, for English owes both week and weak to a common, Indo-European ancestor shared with vicis.

Week is from Old English’s wiecan, whose various Germanic cognates meaning “office” and “function” may point back to some sort of ritual “changing over” of duties after the period of a week. The seven-day week is found in ancient Mesopotamian cultures, though its modern iteration is owed to Jewish tradition; some think of the Sabbath as marking the “turning” period in the week.

Old English had wác, which corresponded to the Old Norse form that eventually yielded weak, going strong in spite of meaning “having deficient strength” since the 1300s. One of the early usages of weak actually meant “bending,” due to lack of strength. Indo-European linguists propose a Proto-Indo-European root of *weik-, meaning “bend.” (The cognate wicker preserves this sense in its bent benches.) Something that bends is not sturdy, stiff, or strong. When you bend something, you change it.

Cruz’s vice presidential announcement may ultimately signal the weakness of his presidential prospects now, but one thing is for sure: the senator certainly doesn’t seem to be bending before the Republican convention this summer, as he wants no one in place of him in the Oval Office.

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Terabyte: a “monstrous” amount of data

Last week, the Panama Papers leaked 2.6 terabytes of data. That adds ups to 11.5 million confidential documents about the secret, and potentially scandalous, offshoring of wealth across the globe. That’s a lot of information. You might even call it a “monstrous” amount, if you look to the origin of the prefix tera

Monsters and marvels 

While the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) first attests terabyte in 1982, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) officially adopted the scientific prefix tera-, or tira- in its original French, in 1947. As the OED cites: “The following prefixes to abbreviations for the names of units should be used to indicate the specified multiples or sub-multiples of these units: T tira- 1012 ×.” One of the earliest usages, as far as I can tell, is teracycle, in reference to some very fast frequencies.

The IUPAC also gave the temporary names to some newly discovered elements, including ununtrium and ununpentium, as I discussed earlier this year.

To acknowledge the sheer size of this prefix quantifies, IUPAC scientists looked to a Greek word: τέρας, or teras. According to Liddell and Scott’s Greek dictionary,  the ancient Greek teras had two main meanings: 1) a “sign,” “wonder,” or “marvel,” as of the heavens; and 2) a “monster,” like a  giant serpent of the sea. The connecting sense appears to be “awe-inspiring size.”

The Modern Greek edition of Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast translates “beast” with our focal Greek word,  teras. Image from

We see a similar sense development in a prodigy, which, as in its original Latin prodigium, named both a “portent” and a “monster.” Perhaps we can imagine the ancients – and ourselves – trying to make meaning out out of some sublime but terrifying storm or creature, as Edmund Burke philosophized.

Tera-ble words 

English, as did Ancient Greek, used tera- (or its genitive τερατ-, terat-) as a combining form to make new words. Apparently a nonce usage, English scholar John Spencer used teratoscopy, or “augury from prodigies,” in his 1665 Discourses Concerning Prodigies, as the OED records. We see a teratology, a “tale about something marvelous,” in Edwards Phillips’s 1678 New World of Words, an early English dictionary. By the 1720s, something teratical “resembled a monster.”

By 1842, biologists applied teratology to the “study of physiological abnormalities,” which reminds us that we once referred to such conditions as “monstrosities.” Terata, teratogen, teratoma, and teratogenesis developed as other scientific terms referring to various physiological abnormalities.

For Indo-European scholars, the Greek teras has its lexical lair in the Proto-Indo-European *kwer-, “to make.” The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (AHD) cites cognates in the Sanskrit karma (literally “something made,” hence an “act”) as well as the very word Sanskrit (“well-formed”). Barnhart’s etymological dictionary, among others, cites Balto-Slavic relatives meaning “sorcery” and “spell.”

What is the sense development from “make” to “monster”? As the AHD suggests, a monster can “make” harm – or cause destruction.

Super-sized storage

Terabytes aren’t the only “monsters” terrorizing computer technology. The giga- in gigabyte is also borrowed from the Greek. Here, γίγας, or gigas, originally one of the superhuman “giants” the Olympian gods overthrew. English ultimately gets its word giant from this Greek root. Like terabyte, giga- was adopted by the IUPAC in 1947, this prefix signifying 109, an order of magnitude of one billion.

According to some accounts,  computer scientist Werner Buchholz coined byte in 1956. A byte contains 8 bits of digital information; bit is shortened from binary digit. Byte apparently, nods to this bit and plays with bite  (appropriately enough for this discussion of monsters). Megabyte appears by 1965, kilobyte by 1970, if the OED is any measure.

Clearly, as computer memory increased, so did the need for ever-larger prefixes, hence the super-sized gigabyte and terabyte of the 1980s. (And up from a terabyte is a petabyte, but I’m not going to take that bait.)

A terabyte is indeed a “monstrous” amount of data. But the real monsters, many fear, are lurking in the shadowy, financial underworld of the offshore accounts, shell companies, and tax havens the Panama Papers may just bring to light.

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Tales from the “crypt”

Apple’s encryption has been at the center of a heated debate over privacy and security these past weeks. A federal judge ordered the company to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters last December to aid the FBI’s investigation, but they have not complied: Apple maintains that such decryption would compromise the data of millions of its users. As the fight continues, we’ll see whether Apple will crack – or keep its code. In the meantime, let’s crack the etymological of code of the word at the center of this debate: crypt.


A 17th-century Italian grotesque ornament drawing. Image from the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1934.


Telecommunications has been using encrypt since the 1950s, with encryption appearing shortly thereafter. Decrypt has been in use earlier, however; the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) cites it in the 1930s to refer more generally to the solution of a cryptogram, “something written in code.” Decrypt’s specifically technological sense followed encrypt.

The OED indicates encrypt and decrypt – these verbs for the conversion of data in and out of codes – were formed after cryptogram, which is dated to the early 1800s. Cryptogram is itself formed after cryptography, a word evidenced all the way back in the 1640s in a reference to Cryptomenytices et Cryptographiae Libri IX. This 1624 text on the art of ciphers (steganography) was written by Gustavus Selenus, a pseudonym, appropriately enough, for Duke August II of Brunswick. Shakespeare’s First Folio was published a year before and, as some will have it, “truthers” claim Selenus’ work reveals Francis Bacon as the true author of the plays.

As we see in cryptogram and cryptography, crypto- has been a not-so-secret word-forming prefix in the English language. The earliest record of the prefix comes in the late 16th century form of cryptoporticus, a reference to the Latin architectural term for a covered, semi-subterranean passageway, usually with windows looking up aboveground.

Nineteenth-century scientists were fond of it: they coined the likes of cryptocephalous and cryptozygous. Cryptozoology joins the “secret” club in the 1960s, though.

Nineteenth-century political and religious leaders liked crypto-, too. We see crypto-Catholic (a secret Catholic) and a whole host of similar conspiratorial coinages: crypto-Christian, crypto-Jesuit, crypto-Jew, crypto-deist, crypto-heretic, even crypto-Fenian, among others. From what I can tell, these formations are indebted to crypto-Calvinism, a 16th German concern about Calvinists acting as Lutherans, the OED tells me. These formations also anticipate the crypto-fascist and crypto-communist (later, just crypto) of the 1920s and 1930s.

Today, I imagine closet has largely outed crypto- in its “secret” appellations, but I could see some currency for crypto-liberal, crypto-conservative, or even crypto-establishment in today’s political climate.

Cryptic crosswords 

Now, crypto- ultimately derives from Greek. Etymologists cite two forms: the Hellenistic Greek κρυπτο- (krypto-), directly responsible for the English prefix, and the more common ancient Greek κρυψι- (krupsi-). Both conceal κρυπτός (kryptos), “hidden,” from a verb, κρύπτειν (kryptein), “to hide.” Indo-European scholars dig yet deeper, reconstructing *krau-, a verb of a similar action.

For the first prefix, krypto, the OED mentions a one-off Greek κρύπτορχος (kryptorkhos), “with undescended testicles”; this –ορχος is related to orchid, the beautiful flowers whose roots suggested testicles to its namers.

Latin fashioned Greek’s kryptos into crypta, an “underground passage” or “covered galley,” possibly even a “vault” or “crypt” in the modern sense. English’s first crypt, which the OED dates at least to 1475, was a “cave” or “cavern,” its meaning of “underground burial place” coming a century or so after. Cryptic begins naming the mysterious in the late 1600s, the crossword puzzle in the late 1900s.

With Morris Travers, chemist William Ramsay fashioned the element krypton in 1898 after the Greek, apparently because this noble gas  was “hidden” in a liquid he was studying. A friend of Ramsay suggested the name Eosium, for the Greek for “dawn” due to the brilliant spectral lines the element emits. The radioactive kryptonite, mined from planet Krypton, may have been so inspired by the element name when it first threatened Superman in the 1940s.

“Hidden” in plain sight

There are yet other cognates of crypt I was very surprised to find hiding in the word: grotto, a “small, pleasant cave” or cave-like place, and undercroft, a “vaulted chamber,” usually under a church. Grotto, via Italian, and undercroft, via Germanic languages, both go back to the Latin crypta.

Grotto and undercroft still evoke for me special places in my Catholic school days. My grade school, St. Mary’s, housed a shrine to its patron saint in a cool, shady cove between school buildings we called the grotto. From what I gather, shrines to Mary were erected by worshippers in grotto-like places, especially along pilgrimage roots. Underneath the church was the undercroft. My school deemed this crypt-like place a great place to house the kindergarten classrooms. These words are charged with powerful memories, peculiar and distinct places they are, with peculiar and distinct names.

Grotto, as indicated, comes from the Italian grotta, which derives grottesca, a kind of “cave painting,” or pittura grottesca. Some speculate these were murals found on the walls in the chambers of Roman buildings, which became known as grotte during their excavation. Grottesca yielded the French crotesque and, ultimately, the English grotesque. At first, a grotesque was a sort of fantastical and pastoral painting of human-animal forms, whose fanciful distortions propelled to the word’s later evolution to “bizarre,” “absurd,” “disturbing” – a term, to bring it full circle, some may use to describe Apple’s refusal to decrypt, others the FBI’s insistence on a backdoor.

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Easy as un-bi-tri? Naming new elements

Recently, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) added four new elements to the periodic table. They are temporarily known as ununtriumununpentiumununseptium, and ununoctium.

That’s a daunting lot of u’s, but the nomenclature behind them is actually pretty, um, elementary – which is about the only thing that seems simple when it comes to the business of chemistry, if you ask me.

Actually, even the naming can get pretty complicated, if you dig deep enough, but here’s a basic breakdown, with a little etymology mixed in.

The whys of all the u‘s 


Image from IUPAC.

Before receiving permanent names, new elements take on provisional ones, called “systematic names,” according to the IUPAC’s official guidelines.

These systematic names are based on the elements’ atomic numbers and derived from Latin and Greek roots for numerals.

Let’s take ununtrium. This is element 113, as the element has 113 protons. Ununtrium literally and sequentially links Latin roots for digits 1, 1, and 3. (As opposed to the Latin for one hundred and thirteen, which I believe is centum et tredecim, but don’t necessarily count on that).

And just to be clear, the Latin root for one is un-, from ūnus. For three we have tri-, formed on trēs.

Then, we tack on the suffix ium, used to name metallic elements. Indeed, these elements, completing the periodic table’s seventh row, are some truly superheavy, if incredibly short-lived, metals synthesized in the laboratory.

Now, the Latin words for many elements – like gold, or aurum, and iron, ferrum – end in –um. The Oxford English Dictionary observes that Cornish scientist Humphry Davy, who discovered a number of metals such as potassium and sodium, helped propel the -ium suffix back in 1807. Based on the compounds Davy was electrolyzing, potassium is formed on potash and sodiumsoda. And so from these –ium largely prevailed ever since.

Ununpentium follows the pattern but uses the Greek root for fivepent-, apparently to avoid confusion between Latin’s quad(for digit 4) and quint– (for digit 5).  Ununseptium and ununoctium continue with the Latin roots for seven (sept-) and eight (oct-).

And the temporary chemical symbols of the new elements– Uut, Uup, Uus, and Uu0 – simply abbreviate the initial letter of their component numerical roots. Easy as un-, bi-, tri-, right?

All this once made element 111, now officially roentgenium, quite the u-ful: unununium, with chemical symbol Uuu.

Name game, round 2

Next, the new elements’ discoverers will submit recommendations for permanent names to the IUPAC, which reviews them for suitability, especially for use across languages. According to the IUPAC’s guidelines, the new names must be based on a mythological concept or character, a mineral or similar substance, a place or geographical region, a property the element displays, or a scientist.

If recent discoveries are any measure, the new names will likely honor the laboratories or nationalities of the scientists. So, the Japanese scientists who synthesized ununtrium may submit japonium for the official name.

You can read the IUPAC’s official recommendations for naming new elements here. For more on the history of the IUPAC’s recommendations, I recommend this piece by Quartz. I also enjoyed the BBC’s take on how elements get their names. And for some more general information on the elements, head over to NPR.

Next post, we’ll look into the origin of the very word element, which turns out to be far from basic.

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hawk vs. patriot

Hard hits, deep throws, gutsy calls–no, these words aren’t describing the New England Patriots besting of the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, but the competitive sport of etymology.  OK, not quite: the fields of American football and English etymology are many, many yards apart, but both keep fans tuning in with the surprises they offer game after game or word after word. Which is true for hawk and patriot.

"Hawk & Patriot." Doodle by @andrescalo.
“Hawk & Patriot.” Doodle by @andrescalo. All hawks consider themselves patriots, but not all patriots consider themselves hawks. Riddle by me.


A seahawk is a simple compound of sea and hawk, cited as such in the 1850s. Hawk itself is much older, evidenced as far back as 700, but you might not recognize it. In Old English, the bird was a hafoc, among other forms. During the period of Middle English, the f left hawk‘s nest, and its range of pronunciations and spellings gradually settled into its modern form of hawk.

Hawks are incredible birds, soaring high, fixing their sharp sight on their prey, and diving down to seize it. And it is this seizing that ultimately gives the bird its name. Behind hawk is the Proto-Germanic *habukaz, exhibiting a classic Grimm’s Law shift from the Proto-Indo-European *kap, ” to grasp.” In Latin, this root yielded capere, “to seize.” Capablecaptureconceive, participate, princemunicipal, and (game-winning) interception are just a few of the many descendants of this prolific root. From the Germanic branches of this root English derives everyday words like have, behave, and heavy. That’s heavy. An incredible word hatched from an incredible nest.


The form of patriot may not have changed as remarkably as hawk‘s, but its meaning has undergone some interesting shifts. English begins rallying behind patriot as early as 1577, enlisting the word from the French patriote, a “fellow countryman.” Yet patriots weren’t always conceived in a necessarily positive light: the term has a history of marking divisions. The Oxford English Dictionary notes a Dutch usage of the term in the 1570s describing followers of William of Orange, leader of the Dutch War of Independence. This usage, apparently, propelled the shift of the word from “fellow countryman” to a “lover of one’s country.” In the 17th and 18th century, the OED observes a derogatory and ironic usage of the term, a sort of sanctimonious Sam Adams:

A person who claims to be disinterestedly or self-sacrificingly devoted to his or her country, but whose actions or intentions are considered to be detrimental or hypocritical; a false or feigned patriot.

Patriot remains a loaded term in American politics. The act of calling a person a patriot can be just that–or it can be exploiting nationalistic themes of unity and freedom to single out those not deemed to be true patriots. Identity is indeed at play in the more ancient origins of the word. Via the late Latin patriota, patriot ultimately comes from the Ancient Greek πατριωτης (patriotes)As Liddell and Scott note, πατριωτης were “barbarians who had only a common πατρίς [patris, fatherland], πολιταυ [politau] being used of Greeks who had a common πόλις (polis, city-state).” The Greek πατριωτης was also used of members of a clan, or a πατρίaa “clan.”

Behind πατρίς and πατρίa is the Greek πατήρ, “father,” from one of the Proto-Indo-European words for “father,” *pəter- (or *phter-). For all the divisions that warring fatherlands have caused, at least the root is etymologically unifying, for *pəter- gives Sanskrit pitṛ, Greek πατήρ which we just encountered, the Old Irish athirand English’s very own father, among its other Indo-European progeny.

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Fast Mash

  • Via French, transition comes from Latin transitiōnem, accusative of transitiō
  • Transitiō is formed from transire, to go across, fusing trans (across) and īre (go)
  • Preposition/prefix trans likely derives from a verb, *trare (to cross), while īre stems from prolific Proto-Indo-European *ei

First off, I want to thank Stan Carey for his shout-out of “The Mashed Radish” on his always learned and be-learning Sentence First. Subscribe to him. Second, I want to welcome all the new followers I’ve gained as a result of it; I look forward to our community and conversation.

So, the big move has arrived. At the end of this week, my dictionaries and I will be in transition and transit from Minneapolis, MN to Laguna Beach, CA. (No, it is not healthy to talk about my dictionaries that way.) I plan to keep up with my weekly postings, but may be claiming a little wiggle room from time to time in the short future. But let’s just say that I suspect the ocean will be every bit as inspiring as the snow.

Since I otherwise can’t conjure up a better one, let’s get right to this week’s word: transition, a (now) regular enough word, if with a little more starch in its collar, but which displays some of the wonderful stuff of word origins and the English language.


As with many more academic, abstract, or technical English words, transition was taken right from Latin—in this case, transitiōnem, formed on transitiō. The -em marks the accusative case, the n functions as part of a conjugational paradigm, -iō gets affixed to the t of a participial stem, and…OK, we’re not in Latin class.

Know that all this inflection business—changing the form of words to change their grammatical function, like adding –s can mark the plural in English—is tell-tale Indo-European.

Also know that English, particularly Middle English, borrowed quite liberally from this -iō-/-iōn- structure (via French) to form all kinds of nouns of state or condition. Think, well, condition, or relation, nation, compression, depression, or connection (or connexion for my UK friends). In English, -ing, Germanic in origin, serves the same function as Latin -iō, forming verbal derivatives like talking, reading, and writing. But English—as most languages are, though perhaps to a higher degree than others—is a mutt, taking not just vocabulary but grammatical structures from other languages. Language, the great appropriator, the great opportunist.

In Latin, transitiō referred to a “crossing” or “passage,” although it could also signify switching political parties or infectious diseases, which some would way say are one and the same. Language trades so the wares of metaphor. By the 1550s, English took up the word from French (where else?), and it meant passing from one condition or state into another, much as it does today. (For the OED, 1975 marks the earliest evidence of transition as a verb.)


But there is more to anatomize in transitiō. Latin derived it from transīre, its own verb meaning “to go across.” We also get transit and transient from it. In transīre, you probably recognize trans, a rather productive prefix in English meaning “across/over/beyond.” Transcontinental was a big word in the age of the railroads. Transgender is an important one today. And the U.S. Congress has proved itself ever intransigent in its legislative transactions.

In English, trans is a prefix; in Latin, a prefix, too, but also a preposition. For instance, trans sylvam means “beyond the woods”; hence, Transylvania. Historical linguists posit that trans evolved from a verb, possibly *trare, which simply meant “to cross.” A relative, the English preposition through, tells a similar story.

This, to me, is the true wonder of etymology and language evolution. All the little nuts and bolts that hold language together—morphemes like -ing, humble and mundane prepositions like through or across or with, articles like the—didn’t just come from nowhere. They started out as their own whole words far back enough, words with meat and muscle, thing-words and action-words. With time and usage, with the way language both gets whittled down and built up in speech, they became purely functional, their stories now invisible or inaudible, but carrying them around with them nonetheless.


The other part of transīre is īre, that essential of essential verbs, “to go.And this is another terrific demonstration of the vigor of etymology—the way a simple sound spreads and persists and changes through time, tongue, and culture. The Online Etymology Dictionary cites a great list of the progeny of Proto-Indo-European’s *ei- (to go, walk):

  • Greek eimi (I go)
  • Latin īre (to go); iter (a way; think itinerary, reiterate)
  • Old Irish ethaim (I go); Irish bothar (a road, blending words meaning “cow’s way”; cf. bovine)
  • Gaulish eimu (we go)
  • Gothic iddja (went”
  • Sanskrit e’ti (goes); imas (we go); ayanam (a going, way)
  • Avestan ae’iti (goes)
  • Old Persian aitiy (goes)
  • Lithuian eiti (to go)
  • Old Church Slavonic iti (go)
  • Bulgarian idea (I go)
  • Russian idti (to go)
  • English ion (introduced by Faraday in 1834, but we’ll save that story for another day)

That’s impressive. I’d say transition is in good company. Those ancient utterances live on, as we teach students to write more effective transitions between body paragraphs, or discuss transitioning new software systems at the office, or figure out our footing in the world as we transition from life in Minnesota to California. And while its flesh and bones may be Latinate, transition, as these examples evidence, behaves like a true English word.

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