In the new Netflix documentary Operation Varsity Blues, they mention the etymology of the word prestige, which is pretty interesting. When it was first used in the middle of the seventeenth century, it actually meant "deception"! The definition shifted to its modern sense through a notion of "illusion" or "glamour", and it gradually got more associated with reputation and influence. The term comes from Latin praestigium, which meant "delusion". That's composed of the prefix prae-, meaning "before", and "stringere", meaning "to bind" (together, this could be translated as "to blindfold", something that figuratively happened to deluded people). Finally, prae is from the Proto-Indo-Euopean root per, meaning "forward"; stringere, which also shows up in words like restrict, strait, strain, strict, stress, constrain, and constrict, derives from Proto-Indo-European streig, which could mean "rub" or "press".
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 philosophy, trivia, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.