We were singing a praise chorus in church, when a word leaped out and grabbed my heart.


I knew ex- is a Latin root meaning “out, up.” I knew altus is Latin for “high.” It makes sense to lift Jesus up in a praise song, right?

But what I didn’t know is that when I looked up the etymology of EXALT, my trusty Webster’s New World College Dictionary would tell me to “see OLD.” Of course, I did! I always do. That’s how I sometimes get lost in the dictionary when I look up a word.

OLD (coming to English through Old English/Anglian), comes from the Indo-European base al- “to grow.” Latin’s verb alere means “to nourish.” The basic sense of the word in its Latin adjective form (altus) is “grown.”

Hey, now I want to be OLD! Now OLD carries a sense of maturity and strong, deep roots rather than a sense of diminishing or withering away. Bring it on! 

(But not for a while, please.)

WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: List as many words with alt- as you can. (Nope, ALTER doesn’t count. Look it up, as my Mom used to say.) Ready, set, go…

 Blessings, Voni