When I think of the word economy, I imagine large-scale things such as the national debt or trade deficit. I don't think of personal finances or checkbooks immediately. However, in the olden days, the word economy only used to refer to household management, while the phrase political economy was exclusively used for national money matters. It wasn't until the 1650s that people thought it would be nifty to drop the word political and refer to any financial system as an economy. In its earlier form, economy was borrowed in the 1530s from the Latin word oeconomia, which was from Ancient Greek oikonomia, with the same meaning of "household management". This in turn was composed of the parts oikos, meaning "house", and nemein, meaning "manage", "distribute", or even "allocate". Oikos traces to Proto-Indo-European weyk, a verb for "to settle" (and ancestor of the English suffix -wick for villages) and nemein can be reconstructed to PIE nem, "assign"). So, in a way, the etymology of economy is like real estate economics: it's all about assigning location, location, location.
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