Today, the word harangue means "to aggressively lecture". But 6,500 years ago, its etymon meant "to bend". You see, in the antediluvian days of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language, its alleged speakers used the root sker for that meaning, also doubling as "to turn". As PIE broke apart, the word evolved into Proto-Germanic hringaz, which meant "something curved" and only vaguely sounds like sker for some reason. The meaning prevailed into Old English, but the word eroded to hring. Eventually, a new meaning began to catch on, that of "ring", and that gave us the word "ring" which we use today. But back to hring. Either it or one of its relatives coming from hringaz morphed even further to yield the Old Italian word aringo, which meant "arena", on the connection that arenas were circular and this word had circular connotations. From a meaning of "arena" to a meaning of "public square" was not that big of a stretch after that, and from a meaning of "public square" to a meaning of "public address" was not that big of a stretch after that. At this point, we've arrived at the Middle French word harangue, which slipped into English with somewhat more negative connotations to give us the word we have today.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-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