Archives For etymology

>MIEPEYC mosaid with latin wordsphoto © 2010 Steven Damron | more info (via: Wylio)

My wife and I used to send our twelve-year-old son to private school (we had quite a bit of assistance in doing so). I don’t know how you would feel about it, but one of my favorite aspects of that school was Latin. What I mean is that I enjoyed the fact–regardless of how he felt–that our son was learning Latin.

That said, one of the most troubling aspects of Latin was practicing it with him. Take for instance the word, “niger” (nee-gheyr). It’s Latin for the color, “black.” It’s completely ruined for me (for obvious reasons). I mean try practicing a Latin word list with your child in public, and see what happens. Or not. Better not. Hilarity does not ensue.

That word is dead to me.

If you’re around the same age as me, you perhaps grew up watching reruns of The Flintstones in syndication. If so, this brings to mind another word that’s ruined, and indeed all but dead, with regards to its original meaning. You know the word I mean: “gay.” As in “we’ll have a gay old time.”

As you know, the word, “gay,” originally meant happy, festive, joyous, and now in our modern vernacular means something entirely different. I mean hearing that theme song now, I wonder “Is there something going on between Barney and Fred that Betty and Wilma don’t know about?”

Thus it is that word–gay–is completely ruined for me in the sense in which it was originally intended by the composer. (And don’t get me started on “Don we we now our gay apparel”–because that is obviously a song about cross-dressing mafiosos at Christmastime).

Speaking of “dapper dons,” another word that is ruined for me is “gentleman.” Originally, a gentleman was someone who owned property and had a coat of arms. A member of the landed gentry.

Some well-intentioned soul decided that far more than such ownership, it was more important how a gentleman behaved. Thus the word was corrupted irretrievably from its original sense.

Not that I have anything at all against gentlemanly behavior, mind you. Ask my wife: even after twenty years, I still get the door for her. And I guess I own property–well, the bank does–but have no coat of arms. I am a gentleman only in the sense that I behave like one.

You know who else is a complete gentleman, perhaps the only true gentleman (in every sense of the word)? Our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s true.

But I know folks who have made His Name the grandaddy of all curse words (even more than “MF”). I’m sure you’ve heard it, too. “JC” this, and “JC” that.

To those folks (to all of us), Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.”

In gentlemanly fashion, the Savior of the world stands outside, knocking on the door of our hearts, waiting for us to open to him. This despite the profaning of His Name. This despite the fact that He owns us all body and soul. He waits.

He waits, but will not wait forever. When He returns, He will do so bearing arms, and all who did not willingly bow their hearts now, will be compelled then.

Philippians 2:10-11 says, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

My question to you is: what are you waiting for? “Ruin” His Name no more: bow your heart now, and embrace the life He has in store.

What are you waiting for?