While working on my eye infographic, I stumbled into the interesting question of whether the words pupil (meaning "student") and pupil (the part of the eye) are related. Turns out that the story is quite interesting. The first definition of pupil came from the French word pupille, which meant "orphan", since many orphans became students, supposedly? This is from its Latin etymon pupillus, with the same meaning. This is a diminutive of the earlier word pupus, or"boy". Pupil meaning "the part of the eye", however, derives from the French homonym of the previous word pupille, which in this case meant "little doll", so named because of the tiny reflections of people you see when looking into someone's pupil. This is from Latin pupa ("girl"), which, unsurprisingly, is the feminine form of the word pupus, "boy" (the word pupa, incidentally, is in English, meaning "maggot". This ties into my past infographics because that was coined by Linnaeus) . Now that we've joined the two words, pupus goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root pehw, meaning "little". How FASCINATING!
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd