Every day I get Richard Rohr’s “Daily Meditations.” Recently I read, “When you live in the false self you are “eccentric,” or off-center.” I had never figured out that “eccentric” meant being away from the norm.
It started me wondering about other words I use all the time without being aware of their etymology. It was only a few years ago, for instance, that I realized that the English word “nonchalant” came from the French “non chalant” meaning “not warm” or, in other words, “cool.”
I also remember discovering that the English word “serendipity” came from the novelist Horace Walpole who borrowed it from a Persian folktale, The Three Princes of Serendip, whose heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”
Are there any words that snuck up on you?