a little east of reality

Monday, April 25, 2005

word origins

I'm surprised how interesting things can be, even when they don't really matter. I was just reading how the Greek God Pan was considered to be the cause of that sudden fear that sometimes comes for no reason, especially in lonely places. That's why that feeling is called 'panic'.

Why is this so interesting to me? Every word had its origin somewhere, after all. Yet I honestly felt a tiny sense of revelation when I read it. 'Ohhhh, PAN-ic...right'.

Does it really matter that Shakespeare coined the word 'lonely'? Probably not. But I like to imagine him playing with words until he found the one that sounded right. Lack-lustre is a great word, but lack-company doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it? Alonesome? Solitarial? Loned? Loneful? Seriously, 'lonely' is a beautiful, perfect word.

Barrie created the name 'Wendy' for his Peter Pan heroine. Given the already romantic sound of the word 'wend', it's quite lovely. And it adds to Barrie's charm.

I'm such a word geek.