Word Origin Explorations
Do you read the content of a dictionary for fun? I do. Why? I find words to be exciting. In addition, the ability to choose the right word empowers me to convey the desired message in both an effective and efficient way.
One key to choosing the right word is to understand its origin. The strength of a word’s origin, or what I call its semantic genealogy, gives the word more juice or more power. If you want to have powerful content then choose power words. Here are a couple of power adjectives with a review of their origins.
Contemporary : con • temp • orary.
· Con is a derivative of the Latin prefix “com” which was a derivative of the Latin “cum” which was a derivative of the Proto-Indo-European root “kom” which means “near,” or “with.”
· Temp evolved from the Latin word “tempus” with a range of meanings from “time,” “condition,” and “weather.”
· Orary evolved from the Latin suffix “-arius” meaning “of” or “having to do with.”
Put the original meanings of the three parts together to find the idea of “having to do with time” or “characterized by the time with which it is relevant.” Now the meaning “modern” makes sense. Consider the use of contemporary in the following sentences:
The orchestra performed a contemporary version of Beethoven’s Fifth.
The business created a more contemporary strategy by engaging in Internet marketing.
This word actually derives its energy not from the sum of its parts but from its source – Greek mythology. Tantalus, a wealthy king, was punished by the gods for his offense to them. The explanations of that offense are numerous but the punishment uniformly agreed upon. Tantalus was cast down to Hades where he stood in the midst of a lake with fruit laden branches hanging around him. His eternal condition was one of hunger and thirst. However, when he would stoop to drink from the lake or reach to take fruit from the branches the water would recede or the branches would withdraw out of reach. Thus, “tantalizing” means “something which appeals to or attracts one’s senses while remaining unobtainable”.
Companies targeting the Internet as a tool for growing their businesses find ranking high on search pages or keeping potential customers from bouncing off of their pages a tantalizing goal. Tantalizing becomes attainable with the right words, the right commitment, and the right content. ~Marni