Etymology of some IE/OR terms


We communicate with words. Each word has its own history, also each word triggers different concepts in everybody’s mind. But we are not fully aware of this. For an example you can watch this part of Douglas Hofstadter’s talk.

In this post I will list some popular IE/OR terms. It is interesting to see the change in the meaning of the words. Please feel free to suggest words.

I started with oldest words, highlighted the year when the word got relevant from IE/OR meaning. My source is Online Etymological Dictionary.

cost (n.) c.1200, from Old French cost (12c., Modern French coût) “cost, outlay, expenditure; hardship, trouble,” from Vulgar Latin *costare, from Latin constare, lit. “to stand at” (or with), with a wide range of figurative senses including “to cost.” The idiom is the same one used in Modern English when someone says something “stands at X dollars” to mean it sells for X dollars. The Latin word is from com- “with” (see com-) + stare “to stand,” from PIE root *sta- “to stand” (see stet).

production (n.) c.1400, “a coming into being;” from Old French production (13c.), from Medieval Latin productionem (nom. productio), from pp. stem of Latin producere “bring forth” (see produce). Meaning “that which is produced” is mid-15c.

simulation mid-14c., “a false show, false profession,” from Old French simulation, from Latin simulationem (nom. simulatio) “an imitating, feigning,” noun of action from simulare”imitate,” from stem of similis “like” (see similar).

cost (v.) late 14c., from Old French coster (Modern French coûter) “to cost,” from cost (see cost (n.)).

constraint (n.) late 14c., “distress, oppression,” from Old French constreinte “binding, constraint, compulsion” (Modern French contrainte), fem. noun from constreint, pp. ofconstreindre, from Vulgar Latin *constrinctus, from Latin constrictus (see constrain). Meaning “coercion, compulsion” is from 1530s.

inventory (n.) early 15c., from Old French inventoire “inventory, detailed list of goods, catalogue,” from Medieval Latin inventorium (Late Latin inventarium) “list of what is found,” from Latin inventus, pp. of invenire “to find” (see invention). The verb is first recorded c.1600, from the noun.

forecast (v.) late 14c., “to scheme,” from fore- “before” + casten “contrive.” Meaning “predict events” first attested late 15c.

produce (v.) late 15c., “to develop, be extended,” from Latin producere “lead or bring forth, draw out,” from pro- “forth” (see pro-) + ducere “to bring, lead” (see duke). Sense of “bring into being” is first recorded 1510s; that of “to put (a play) on stage” is from 1580s. Related: Produced; producing.

industry (n.) late 15c., “cleverness, skill,” from Old French industrie “activity; aptitude” (14c.) or directly from Latin industria “diligence, activity, zeal,” fem. of industrius “industrious, diligent,” used as a noun, from early Latin indostruus “diligent,” from indu “in, within” + stem of struere “to build” (see structure). Sense of “diligence, effort” is from 1530s; meaning “trade or manufacture” first recorded 1560s; that of “systematic work” is 1610s.

model (n.) 1570s, “likeness made to scale; architect’s set of designs,” from Middle French modelle (16c., Modern French modèle), from Italian modello “a model, mold,” from Vulgar Latin *modellus, from Latin modulus “a small measure, standard,” diminutive of modus “manner, measure” (see mode (n.1)).

Sense of “thing or person to be imitated” is 1630s. Meaning “motor vehicle of a particular design” is from 1900 (e.g. Model T, 1908; Ford’s other early models included C, F, and B). Sense of “artist’s model” is first recorded 1690s; that of “fashion model” is from 1904. German, Swedish modell, Dutch, Danish model are from French or Italian.

engineer (n.) early 14c., “constructor of military engines,” from Old French engigneor, from Late Latin ingeniare (see engine); general sense of “inventor, designer” is recorded from early 15c.; civil sense, in reference to public works, is recorded from c.1600. Meaning “locomotive driver” is first attested 1832, American English. A “maker of engines” in ancient Greece was a mekhanopoios.

manufacture (n.) 1560s, “something made by hand,” from Middle French manufacture, from Medieval Latin *manufactura (source of Italian manifattura, Spanish manufactura), from Latin manu, ablative of manus “hand” (see manual (adj.)) + factura “a working,” from pp. stem of facere “to perform” (see factitious). Sense of “process of manufacturing” first recorded c.1600.

process (n.) early 14c., “fact of being carried on” (e.g. in process), from Old French proces “journey” (13c.), from Latin processus “process, advance, progress,” from pp. stem ofprocedere “go forward” (see proceed). Meaning “course or method of action” is from mid-14c.; sense of “continuous series of actions meant to accomplish some result” (the main modern sense) is from 1620s. Legal sense of “course of action of a suit at law” is attested from early 14c.

research 1570s, “act of searching closely,” from Middle French recerche (1530s), from Old French recercher “seek out, search closely,” from re-, intensive prefix, + cercher “to seek for” (see search). Meaning “scientific inquiry” is first attested 1630s. Phrase research and development is recorded from 1923.

system (n.) 1610s, “the whole creation, the universe,” from Late Latin systema “an arrangement, system,” from Greek systema “organized whole, body,” from syn- “together” (seesyn-) + root of histanai “cause to stand” from PIE root *sta- “to stand” (see stet). Meaning “set of correlated principles, facts, ideas, etc.” first recorded 1630s. Meaning “animal body as an organized whole, sum of the vital processes in an organism” is recorded from 1680s; hence figurative phrase to get (something) out of one’s system (1900). Computer sense of “group of related programs” is recorded from 1963. All systems go (1962) is from U.S. space program.

forecast (n.) early 15c., probably from forecast (v.); earliest sense was “forethought, prudence;” meaning “conjectured estimate of a future course” is from 1670s. A Middle English word for weather forecasting was aeromancy.

algorithm (n.) 1690s, from French algorithme, refashioned (under mistaken connection with Greek arithmos “number”) from Old French algorisme “the Arabic numeral system” (13c.), from Medieval Latin algorismus, a mangled transliteration of Arabic al-Khwarizmi “native of Khwarazm,” surname of the mathematician whose works introduced sophisticated mathematics to the West (see algebra). The earlier form in Middle English was algorism (early 13c.), from Old French.

plan (n.) 1670s as a technical term in perspective drawing; 1706 as “drawing, sketch, or diagram of any object,” from French plan “ground plan, map,” lit. “plane surface” (mid-16c.), from Latin planum “level or flat surface,” noun use of adjective planus “level, flat” (see plane (n.1)). The notion is of “a drawing on a flat surface.” Meaning “scheme of action, design” is first recorded 1706, possibly influenced by French planter “to plant,” from Italian planta “ground plan.”

probability (n.) mid-15c., “quality of being probable,” from Old French probabilite (14c.) and directly from Latin probabilitatem (nom. probabilitas), from probabilis (see probable). Meaning “something likely to be true” is from 1570s; mathematical sense is from 1718.

plan (v.) 1728, “make a plan of,” from plan (n.). Related: Planned; planning; plans. Planned economy is attested from 1931. Planned Parenthood (1942) formerly was Birth Control Federation of America.

management (n.) 1590s, “act of managing,” from manage + -ment. Meaning “governing body” (originally of a theater) is from 1739.

planning (n.) 1748, verbal noun from plan (v.).

operation (n.) late 14c., “action, performance, work,” also “the performance of some science or art,” from Old French operacion “operation, working, proceedings,” from Latinoperationem (nom. operatio) “a working, operation,” from pp. stem of operari “to work, labor” (in Late Latin “to have effect, be active, cause”), from opera “work, effort,” related to opus (genitive operis) “a work” (see opus). The surgical sense is first attested 1590s. Military sense of “series of movements and acts” is from 1749.

statistics (n.) 1770, “science dealing with data about the condition of a state or community,” from German Statistik, popularized and perhaps coined by German political scientist Gottfried Aschenwall (1719-1772) in his “Vorbereitung zur Staatswissenschaft” (1748), from Modern Latin statisticum (collegium) “(lecture course on) state affairs,” from Italian statista “one skilled in statecraft,” from Latin status (see state (n.1)). Meaning “numerical data collected and classified” is from 1829. Abbreviated formstats first recorded 1961.

industrial (adj.) 1774, from French industriel, from Medieval Latin industrialis, from Latin industria (see industry). Earlier the word had been used in English in a sense “resulting from labor” (1580s); the modern use is considered a reborrowing. Meaning “suitable for industrial use” is from 1904. As a style of dance music, attested from 1988.Industrial revolution was in use by 1840 to refer to recent developments and changes in England and elsewhere.

engineering (n.) 1680s, from engineer (n.). Meaning “work done by an engineer” is from 1720. As a field of study, attested from 1792. An earlier word was engineership (1640s);engineery was attempted in 1793, but it did not stick.

modeling (n.) also modelling, 1650s, “action of bringing into desired condition,” verbal noun from model (v.). Meaning “action of making models” (in clay, wax, etc.) is from 1799. Meaning “work of a fashion model” is from 1941.

network (n.) “net-like arrangement of threads, wires, etc.,” 1550s, from net (n.) + work (n.). Extended sense of “any complex, interlocking system” is from 1839 (originally in reference to transport by rivers, canals, and railways). Meaning “broadcasting system of multiple transmitters” is from 1914; sense of “interconnected group of people” is from 1947.

non-linear (adj.) also nonlinear, 1844, from non- + linear.

optimize (v.) 1844, “to act as an optimist,” back formation from optimist. Meaning “to make the most of” is first recorded 1857. Related: Optimized; optimizing.

efficiency (n.) 1590s, “power to accomplish something,” from Latin efficientia (from efficientem; see efficient) + -cy. In mechanics, “ratio of useful work done to energy expended,” from 1858. Attested from 1952 as short for efficiency apartment (itself from 1930).

heuristic (adj.) “serving to discover or find out,” 1821, irregular formation from Greek heuretikos “inventive,” related to heuriskein “to find” (from PIE *were- “to find;” cf. Old Irish fuar”I have found”) + -istic. As a noun, from 1860.

schedule (n.) late 14c., sedule, cedule “ticket, label, slip of paper with writing on it,” from Old French cedule, from Late Latin schedula “strip of paper,” diminutive of Latin schida”one of the strips forming a papyrus sheet,” from Greek skhida “splinter,” From stem of skhizein “to cleave, split” (see shed (v.) and cf. schism).

The notion is of slips of paper attached to a document as an appendix (a sense maintained in U.S. tax forms). The specific meaning “printed timetable” is first recorded 1863 in railway use (the verb in this sense is from 1862). Modern spelling is 15c., in imitation of Latin; the modern British pronunciation (“shed-yul”) is from French influence, while the U.S. pronunciation (“sked-yul”) is from the practice of Webster, and is based on the Greek original.

facility (n.) early 15c., “gentleness,” from Middle French facilité, from Latin facilitatem (nom. facilitas) “easiness, ease, fluency, willingness,” from facilis “easy” (see facile). Its sense in English moved from “genteelness” to “opportunity” (1510s), to “aptitude, ease” (1530s). Meaning “place for doing something,” which makes the word so beloved of journalists and fuzzy writers, first recorded 1872.

logistics (n.) “art of moving, quartering, and supplying troops,” 1879, from French (l’art) logistique “(art) of quartering troops,” from Middle French logis “lodging,” from Old Frenchlogeiz “shelter for an army, encampment,” from loge (see lodge (n.)) + Greek-derived suffix -istique (see -istic). The form in French was influenced by logistique. Related: Logistical.

objective (n.) 1738, “something objective to the mind,” from objective (adj.). Meaning “goal, aim” (1881) is from military term objective point (1852), reflecting a sense evolution in French.

productivity (n.) 1809, “quality of being productive,” from productive + -ity. Economic sense of “rate of output per unit” is from 1899.

stochastic (adj.) 1660s, “pertaining to conjecture,” from Greek stokhastikos “able to guess, conjecturing,” from stokhazesthai “guess,” from stokhos “a guess, aim, target, mark,” lit. “pointed stick set up for archers to shoot at” (see sting). The sense of “randomly determined” is first recorded 1934, from German stochastik.

program (n.) 1630s, “public notice,” from Late Latin programma “proclamation, edict,” from Greek programma (genitive programmatos) “a written public notice,” from stem ofprographein “to write publicly,” from pro- “forth” (see pro-) + graphein “to write” (see -graphy).

General sense of “a definite plan or scheme” is recorded from 1837. Meaning “list of pieces at a concert, playbill” first recorded 1805 and retains the original sense. That of “objects or events suggested by music” is from 1854. Sense of “broadcasting presentation” is from 1923. Computer sense (noun and verb) is from 1945. Spelling programme, sometimes preferred in Britain, is from French and began to be used early 19c.

decision (n.) mid-15c., from Middle French décision (14c.), from Latin decisionem (nom. decisio) “a decision, settlement, agreement,” noun of action from pp. stem of decidere (see decide). Decision making (adjective, also decision-making) is recorded from 1953.

simulate (v.) 1620s (implied in simulated), from Latin simulatus, pp. of simulare (see simulation). First record of simulated in sense of “imitative for purposes of experiment or training” is from 1966 (simulation in this sense dates from 1954).

Photo by Michael Fawcett.

Ahmet Yukselturk

Graduate student at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. I am interested in operations research, history & philosophy of science, technology. Twitter: @nanoturkiye.