I classify myself as a word nerd in my profile, and now I feel compelled to prove it!

To start with, I remember being in tears…truthfully tearful…when my 9th-grade English teacher announced she was going to teach us the Greek and Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes. Why didn’t anyone ever teach me that before? Why? Why? The beauty of word derivations just spoke to me: seeing connections between seemingly unrelated words, being able to deduce the meaning of an unfamiliar word. I feel about word derivations the way archeologists must feel about digging in the dirt.

I told you I’m a word nerd.

So, for my first Word Nerd entry, I’m going to look up "Enemy" and "Amity," since they’re similar enough to raise my curiosity. (I’m using Webster’s New World College Dictionary).

"Amity" comes from the Latin amicus, friend, which comes from the Latin amare, to love. [And since Spanish is a romance language closely related to Latin: amar = to love, and amigo means friend.]

"Enemy" comes from the Latin inimicus, which Latin speakers got by combining the prefix in- (meaning "not") with the word amicus. Not a friend = enemy. It’s an interesting thought that "not a friend" didn’t mean "stranger" to the Romans. Makes me think of a guard calling out "Friend or Foe?" I mean, "I don’t even know you!" wasn’t an option? I had thought "enemy" would include the Latin prefix e- (meaning "out"), but I guess not. That’s the fun of word archeology!

Other related words from the top of my head:


Please feel free to comment and add to this short list, and please make any requests for Word Nerd research.