Somebody recently requested the word instinct, which is great, because I've wanted to cover that one for a while. It was first attested in the early fifteenth century in a history of the city of Troy, and comes from an Old French with the same spelling and meaning. That came in the fourteenth century from Latin instinctus, which could mean either "instigation" or "inspiration". Either way, it's something that compels people to do things, and it derives from the verb instiguere, meaning "incite". That's composed of the prefix in-, meaning "into", and stinguere, meaning "prick" or "goad". Apparently the idea was that something that was instinctual was instigated by something pricking into you. Stinguere, which is also the root present in extinguish, comes from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction stegw, "to thrust".
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.