How are the words infant and infantry connected? Pretty whimsically, it turns out. In French, the word for infant was infante, which originally meant "youth" under a connection of inexperience. Both of these words trace to Latin noun infans, with the same meaning as infant today. This, however, comes from two other parts: the prefix in-, implying an opposite (and hailing from Proto-Indo-European n, meaning "not"), and the root fans, which meant "speaking". An infant, therefore, is one who does not speak (and, by extension, so is the infantry). Fans comes from the Proto-Italic reconstruction faor, from Proto-Indo-European bha, still meaning "to speak". In English literature today, the word infant is used about four times more often than infantry, although application of both has decreased over time.
Adam Aleksic is a 216-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, and law. Adam is anxiously awaiting his rejections from 11 colleges and loves writing about himself in the third person.
The Etymology Nerd