Monday, November 18, 2013

Word etymology

So the other day, my husband asks me, "What do you think is the connection between the words hysteria and hysterectomy?"

Do not even ask why he was thinking about such a thing.  Just pray for me.  And for him.  Yes, pray for both of us.  Please.

I told him, "Look it up on the computer.  Look under the word etymology, and you will be able to find out."

I've been curious myself, since then, but it was not until today that I finally remembered to follow up on it.  I used (this is my credit to them... not up to MLA standards, but I am not trying to steal any information from anybody).

HYSTERECTOMY is from the Greek word "hystera" which means womb, and the Greek word "ektome" which means a cutting out.

Then I looked up HYSTERIA, which gave me no information.  However, it pointed me to the entry for HYSTERICAL where I found that HYSTERICAL comes from the Latin word, "hystericus," which comes from the Greek word "hysterikos" which means of the womb, suffering in the womb, from "hystera," the Greek for wombOriginally, the word HYSTERICAL was defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus.  The usage of the word HYSTERICAL to mean very funny began around 1939 and comes from the notion of uncontrollable (read: mentally unstable) fits of laughter.

I am not sure whether to take umbrage at this, or whether to accept serenely that unstable emotions and womanly complaints have been associated and connected for hundreds of years.

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