Monday, March 29, 2010

The History of Words

You can drive yourself nuts thinking about things too much. I got to thinking about the history of a word. I wasn't thinking of a specific word, but of the notion of any particular word having a history. It was all stirred up by Emily Dickinson. I happen to read one of her poems, "There Is No Frigate Like a Book", and it stirred up all this bother about the etymology of words. It's rather intimidating to think about. Take the word "intimidating." How did it originate, how many times has it been said, in what circumstances? It boggles the mind to even think about it. It makes my short history and life seems so insignificant, somehow. Even though I know that my life isn't insignificant, thinking about that history of a single word like "intimidating" almost makes it so.

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