27 Jan 2010: my big bad textbook

27 Jan 2010: my big bad textbook (Photo credit: anselm23)

One last post following up on my posts on “algebra” and “geometry” over the last two weeks. You can tell I have my mind on homeschooling my teenage daughter, because today’s Word Nerd is:


I thought it would be easy, but I ended up very quickly in very deep waters, thanks to the ever trusty Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

The English history comes from the Old French estoire (“chronicle, story”),  which derives from Latin historia (“narrative of past events, story”). Of course, as usual, the Romans took their word from the Greek.  The Greeks’ histor/historia means “a learning by enquiry, narrative.” A better way  of teaching history by the way, than merely handing a child a textbook and a test.

Ready for the deep waters? The Greek histor comes from the base edenai, “to know.” (I, as usual, deny the responsibility to explain how. I just comment on the facts.) Edenai comes from the Indo-European base weid, “to know, to see.” Not only does weid give us our word vision, it gives us our word wisdom.

Whoa. Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it…

I suddenly see that maxim in a whole new light.

A study of history gives us vision for the future.

I guess that’s the idea of history, right?

WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: I have twice hidden in this blog (in plain sight) a word that also comes from this orbit of derivatives. Can you find it?

Blessings, Voni