FINANCING A RANSOM
6,500 years ago, people were using a word that sounded like dheygw as the phoneme for "fasten" or "fix". This Proto-Indo-European primordial mess then evolved into Latin figere, with the same meaning. Borders are fixed boundaries, so this became finis, meaning "border", which took on a metaphorical definition of "end" (yes, related to finish). The "end" meaning stuck in Old French under the term fin, and when the Normans invaded England in 1066 CE, they brought the word with them. Being all money-minded, the English molded it into a more monetary meaning: the end of a debt, a "pay-off"- what would later become the fine we know today. However, the plot thickens. Fin took another turn, towards finaunce, which meant "to ransom". I know that's weird, but it basically does the same thing; paying off a fine. Sadly, the meaning grew less illegal over time, turning from "ransom" to "settlement" to "general pecuniary exchange" to finance, the word we know today, that has surprisingly criminal origins. Now you know.
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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.