This post was shamelessly copied from my research notes. The word plagiarism comes directly from the Latin word plagiarus, which meant "kidnapper". How did this crazy connection occur? It all harkens back to the Roman poet Martial, who was upset at people who copied his works without accrediting him. He then wrote a tell-all exposé poem railing against those who dared to steal his writings, lambasting their appropriations as akin to stealing another citizen's slave, or kidnapping. Thus the parallel was drawn; but where did plagiarus come from? None other than plaga, "a hunting net" (later meaning "trap"). This is a pretty obvious semantic correlation, for a net is how one would ensnare his unsuspecting prey. This is from Proto-Indo-European plaga, which meant "flat", based off the idea that a net is originally spread flat. PIE connections are weird. It's strange how many times the meaning of this word was hijacked. Even plagiarized, you could say!
Adam Aleksic is a 220-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 College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd