Coterie is an adorable-looking word that describes a small group of people with a unifying goal or interest. The term was borrowed in 1738 from French (no surprise there) and appears to be a diminutive of the Old French word cote, which meant "cottage" and is also a relative of our current English word cottage. The connection was in landholding; originally, a coterie was a group of people that had a property in common, and the definition grew from there. Cote, sometimes spelled cotte, probably traces to the Old Norse word kot, meaning "hut". This, through the Proto-Germanic reconstruction kutan, probably derives from a Proto-Indo-European root, but I can't find any theories as to which one. The word coterie has been declining in usage since the early 1900s.
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