Today I learned the word stigmata, which is the appearance of pain or wounds in the same places as those associated with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The -ata pluralized the word; a single stigma referred to a mark on the skin in general. This got figuratively extended to mean "mark of disgrace" in the early seventeenth century, and that's how we got our modern word stigma. Through Latin, the term derives from the Ancient Greek verb stizein, which meant "to mark" or "tattoo". That comes from Proto-Hellenic stiddo, which finally traces to the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction steig, which meant "stick" or "point" (also a root in words as different as extinguish, thistle, stick, and instinct; I'll have to cover those later). Usage of stigma in literature over time is on the rise, but stigmata has been on the decline since a 1910s peak.
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.