Good morning! I have just a short Word-Nerd thought about Thanksgiving.

Thanks ought to be a part of the warp and woof of our make-up, as natural as breathing. But it ought not be demoted to the level of habit.

To start off, I discovered that our English word thanks, after a pass through Old English, comes from the Indo-European root tong, “to think.” So, it’s good to think about what’s been done for you, right?

Gratitude and grace come from the same root: The Latin gratia, “pleasing quality, favor, thanks.” [Webster’s New World College Dictionary] In Spanish, of course, gracias says thank you, showing off the Roman roots of the language. I like that. It sounds more, well, graceful than “Thanks.” But that’s just me.

I’ve just gotta share what Noah Webster said in his 1828 Dictionary about the root of our words grace and gratitude:

Grace: [L. gratia, which is formed on the Celtic; Eng. agree, congruous, and ready. The primary sense of gratus, is free, ready, quick, willing, prompt, from advancing.]

Boy, does that put a spin on it. I realize that dictionaries often use the words “thank” and “gratitude” to define each other. Looking at their roots was really convicting to me.

Am I truly thoughtful in my thanks? Or do I toss off a “thanks” as a throw-away, like a child saying “sorry” because they were told to?

Are my thank you’s free, ready, quick, willing, prompt? Or merely a thoughtless habit?

I leave you with Webster’s definition of gratitude, which is deeper and richer than anything in our modern dictionaries.

“An emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or good will towards a benefactor; thankfulness. Gratitude is an agreeable emotion, consisting in or accompanied with good will to a benefactor, and a disposition to make a suitable return of benefits or services, or when no return can be made, with a desire to see the benefactor prosperous and happy. Gratitude is a virtue of the highest excellence, as it implies a feeling and generous heart, and a proper sense of duty.”

WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: Click here to read Noah Webster’s definition of grace, which is deeper and richer than in any modern dictionaries. I invite you to leave a comment to share what God has done in your life to excite your heart-felt gratitude. (Click below on the link to last week’s blog on National Adoption Day to read about just one thing God has done for me that excites my gratitude.)