The bull talks words – astronaut

31 Mar

One of the things the bull does is look at words and wonder how they came up, how did the random mix of syllables make up something so definite and meaningful so as to stimulate the exact thought in our head everytime we hear it or glance at a visual representation of its sounds ?

Today I contemplate on the stars, not like the geeky astrophysicist or the kooky astrologer but as a very amateur etymologist.

Who hasnt dreamt about being an astronaut , as a kid ? Now how did they come up with that word for a man who goes up into space ?

Astro comes from the greek root word astron/aster meaning star.

Naut comes from nautes meaning sailor (remember the nautical mile ? for those of you who dont, I’ll get back to it)

So an astronaut is essentially a sailor to the stars (astro+naut)

astronomy , astrology , astrophysics , astroid are all derived from the same root.

nomos – means a custom or law

logos – is the study of

and oid – means shaped like

like a spheroid or ellipsoid or android (man-shaped, though ill discuss andro in a different post)

Lets take more words with the astro root

asterisk – the star shaped mark u make when the expletives aren’t to be read by all 😉 😉

and have you thought of the word disaster ?

The ancients thought that bad things happen when the stars are misaligned. (Some people think the same today, but let me not raise my pulse discussing stupidity while I’m discussing beautiful words)

so dis-(latin for apart or asunder) and aster (astro) together made disaster – that which happens when the stars are asunder.

Now for the sailor we have ignored (nautes)

The nautical mile , is a measure of distance used largely by sailors, and today even by pilots for navigating the waters and the air. When the word originated, it was used just by the sailors. The nautical mile btw is defined as the unit of length corresponding to one arc of the latitude along any meridien and is equal to 1.852 km

Did I bore you with that stuff ? Sorry man.. Jus close your eyes and drift off to the world of words created by this root

nausea – sea sickness , not a good example ? 😛

naval , navy – all ultimately have the same root passing through many modifications.

And yeah aeronautics is about building ships in the air (aeros) .

Ill be back with more, If you guys have the patience. Let me know.



Disclaimer : I wasn’t born knowing this stuff , so yeah you’ll probably read it in a lot of places in bits and pieces like dictionaries vocab building books etc so dont catch me for plagiarism , this is just common knowledge 😛

and yeah even if there are slight variations in some of the roots. God damn me if this isnt a fun way to learn and remember words. You dont have to start with the words you don’t understand , understanding the origin of the words you know , can open doors to the ones you dont.

May the beer be with you! Ramen

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Posted by on March 31, 2010 in Words


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