The verb decide has deadly interesting origins. Though it came through Middle English deciden, Old French decider, and Latin decidere, you can tell that there's the prefix de-, kind of meaning "off". This was in the language as far as etymologists can trace it, and is either from Etruscan or Proto-Indo-European. It's the other part of decide that's surprising: -cide. Yup, as you may have guessed, this is the same -cide present in words like homicide, suicide, regicide, fratricide, genocide, and all those other euphemistic terms for nasty kinds of death. All the roots trace to the Latin verb caedere, meaning "to cut". The death-related words are connected because of the correlation between "cut" and "kill", a side meaning which later evolved from the word, and decide is connected because when you make a choice, you cut out all the other possible choices. So it sort of makes sense, right? Caedere comes from Proto-Italic kaido, from Proto-Indo-European kehid, which meant something more like "strike".
1/27/2021 05:54:09 am
This is one of my favorite words and decidedly because it is so final. I remind myself every time I choose that there is no looking back.
5/10/2021 11:10:49 am
Who says one shouldn't look back after they decided?
So how do you go about killing options? My attempts to commit to a decision resemble drunken duel from Highlander, where Bassett walks away victorious, only to find out that mortally wounded MacLeod got up and is taunting him again.
5/10/2021 08:33:17 am
I would consider a daily text about the length of your "decide" origin story. Maybe a bit shorter.
5/10/2021 10:16:41 am
This deadly origins applies to the deadly word decimation which numerical word origin. As a global punishment in the Roman army Platoons where divided into groups of 10 and 1 member was selected at random and executed by the rest of the group.
5/16/2021 09:14:20 am
In contemplating the free will versus determinism debate, it seems that if we take "decide" as a snapshot of action in spacetime, we slice the Gordian Knot of the debate. Whether one is causally determined to decide one path over another, or suspends one's decision in a rational vacuum, the decision still closes the future to the one path chosen. The variance is reduced, and a new varianec set arises.
5/17/2021 06:15:41 pm
I wondered about the origin of 'cacaphony'.
10/25/2021 06:46:55 am
The cultural origin of the word is not metaphorical but literal: a "sacrifice" which, ritually speaking, was an offering of blood to the gods (usually an animal, but originally human), a ritual which derived from spontaneous life-giving or peace-making actions such as the killing of a rival, going into war, or the collective murder of a scapegoat. The ritualisation of these homicidal activities enabled humans to "order" the chaos of ire and violent reciprocity by channeling it through sacrifice, and thus evolved the "rational decision."
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.