The Latin noun limes, which meant "path" or "boundary," has had a remarkable impact on the English language. Its accusative form, limitem, travelled into Old French as limite, and in the fourteenth century that became limit. It also spawned the Latin word for "threshold", limen, which developed into words like liminal ("pertaining to thresholds"), sublime ("up to a threshold", meant to evoke lofty concepts), eliminate ("out of the threshold"), and preliminary ("before the threshold"). There's also the word lintel, used to describe horizontal support beams used on doors and windows. Because that's related to thresholds too, it comes from a variant of Old French lintier, which, through Vulgar Latin, also traces to limes. Finally, limes comes from Latin limus ("askew"), which is thought to be from Proto-Indo-European hehl, "to bend." On a tangential but interesting note, there was a similar word, limbus, which also meant "border" and gave us the theological concept of limbo (etymologically unrelated to the game with the bar), but that's completely unrelated, coming from a different Proto-Indo-European root entirely.
The word casserole was borrowed in the early 1700s from French, where it meant "sauce pan." The -erole part is a lengthened version of the diminutive suffix -ole that was tacked on in the sixteenth century to casse, which just meant "pan," and that traces to the Medieval Latin word cattia, meaning either "pan" or "vessel." Because language is messy, there was probably also some influence from the Provençal noun cassa, which also meant "pan" and probably comes from Latin capsa, meaning "box." However, it's thought that cattia comes from a diminutive of the Greek word kyathos, which was used to describe a special kind of wine vase, similar to a ladle, with a long and looping handle. That's where the trail runs cold, although some think that it could be related to the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction kewh, meaning "to swell." In the late 1880s, casserole started to be extended to the dishes cooked in it, through phrases like en casserole or à la casserole.
TRIPLE UNION SOCIETY
There are five main definitions of the word triad. In music, it can refer to a chord of three tones; in electronics, it can refer to three phosphor dots on a cathode ray tube; in linguistics, it can be a word with three syllables; and, in general, it can be a group of three things. All four of these just come from the Latin and Greek word for three, trias, which eventually traces to the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction trei, also "three". The fifth definition, referring to organized crime syndicates in east Asia, is also related to the others but it has a much more interesting backstory. The first recorded mention of them in English corpora is from the early nineteenth century, and there are two main theories as to where the name came from. It's been suggested that British authorities in Hong Kong named them after the traditional triangular symbol that they used in a lot of patriotic imagery, but the term is also thought by others to predate British involvement in the area. It could also be a translation of Chinese San Ho Hui, or "triple union society", a secret organization formed to cause the ouster of the Manchu Dynasty - with the name referring to the union of heaven, earth, and man. Either way, throughout the 1800s similar groups proliferated in Chinese and Chinese-influenced areas, retaining the name. Recently, the contemporary usage of the word has also been used by some to refer to Chinese criminal organizations in general, not just ones with that particular tradition.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.