This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Nuts and Bolts: doublets

No, not one of these:

Giovanni Battista Moroni. 1570
but the literary sort of doublet.

These are two words which come from the same root word, but have evolved differently over time.
Sometimes doublets are very similar, like chief and chef; sometimes they're startlingly different, like cow and beef (in this case the common root is so far back it's in a language no one knows much about any more, Proto Indo-European); sometimes the meanings of doublets are clearly linked, as in warden and guardian; and sometimes the meanings are so different no one would guess their common origins, like mister and Mistral - or, most pleasingly, as in the opposites guest and host.
I'll leave you with one final example of a doublet: as a language enthusiast my very, very favourite is grammar and glamour.

I do try to aim for just a bit of both.

Words To Use Today: a doublet. The word doublet comes from double, of course, which is from the Latin words duo, two, and plus.


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