-Baobab- (Photo credit: Vít Hassan)

Tell the truth, Fellow Word Nerds.

When you think of the word comfort, you think soft, gentle. Maybe weak. Most probably lazy, as in that dreaded comfort zone we’re all supposed to get out of.

Take a moment and own it before your life changes.


Here’s the real deal.

Fortis is the root word of comfort, and it comes from the Old French, meaning “to comfort, solace.” Those old French took the word from Latin confortare, meaning “to strengthen much”,

Com/con- is a prefix meaning “with,” and it can also serve to intensify the root word, in this case, fortis. (Latin for “strong”.)

Therefore: “to strengthen much.”

No softness or laziness in the etymology of this word, is there?

The word translated comfort in the New Testament (as in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4) comes from the Greek parakletos. It comes from para- , to the side of, AND kaleo, to call, aid, help, comfort, encourage. Therefore, to call for help, as in calling someone alongside you.

Again, no softness or laziness.

Hmmm. Maybe we do need to get out of our “comfort” zones.

So thankful that we, indeed, have friends who truly know what it is to strengthen and encourage and serve—to comfort.