I once covered how the word hysteria meant "uterus" in Greek, but I was shocked to find out that the word histrionic was not related- I had always assumed a common ancestor. Both have connotations of exaggerated emotions, but histrionic was adopted in the 1640s from the French word histrionique, meaning "having to do with actors or theater" (while hysteria comes directly from a medical Latin word for "womb"). This comes from Latin histrio, meaning "actor" (you can see the connection to the modern definition- actors act melodramatic like a histrionic person). This, surprisingly, comes from the ancient Etruscan language, which of course is not Indo-European. Fascinating! Hystrionic is used about 7 times more in literature, and both terms have remained relatively constant in usage over the last century.
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