Today we swear in our new president, and this word seems appropriate. Looking at the word inaugurate, you can clearly pick out the word augur, which, as fans of Roman mythology can attest, is a guy who sees the future. So how did this arise? To find the answer, the etymology of inauguration can be traced all the way back to Proto-Indo-European and the root aug, or "to increase" (also present in augment and in auxiliary, as in "Trump's inauguration augmented his auxiliary"). The PIE root aug faded along with the language, but showed up in Latin as the word augos, with the same definition. The history at this point was messy, and probably a word halfway between augos and augur showed up, meaning "to increase crop yield by ritual". Then the Latin word augur finally showed up. This, in its conjugated form augurare, got prefixed with in- to make inaugurare, or "to consecrate, if the omens were favorable". This definition might sound weird, but the Romans were very superstitious people and would only promote a dude to centurion or whatnot if there were good vibes. Far out! Anyway, this became inaugurationem, which just meant regular old "consecration", which passed into French then English as inauguration. It's sort of fitting that something bound to enlarge one's ego has the roots meaning "enlarge", but for an unrelated etymological reason.
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