The word admire has, uh, miraculous origins. A loanword from French admirar, it stems from Latin, where it was the word admiror. This is a portmanteau, of two other Latin words, ad, and miror. Ad is a common Latin prefix, meaning "towards", and that's generally been Indo-European for about eternity. Miror, the source of Spanish mirar, "look", but not English mirror, meant "to marvel at", from mirus, "astonishing". Something astonishing in a wonderful sense is something to smile at, so it makes sense that it comes from the Proto-Indo-European word smeyros, "smiling or laughing" (through Proto-Italic smeiros). That's already an admirable etymology, but let's go back to the Latin word mirus for a second. Later in Roman times, it gave way to the word miraculum, "object of wonder", since objects of wonder are "astonishing". This went into French as miracle, which passed into English with no alterations, as many French words did. This miraculous connection really proves that etymology is amazing!
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