The word mimic was first used in Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, in Act III, Scene II. That's right; it was invented by the Bard himself. But where did this word, meaning "imitate" come from? Turns out it it's an imitation itself- it allegedly comes from the Latin word mimicus, which meant "pertaining to mimes" (Poor Romans! They had to put up with mimes too!), from the Greek word mimikos, with the same definition (this k to c switch is characteristic from Greek to Latin). This in turn stems from mimos, which meant "actor", and is said to be an adjectival form of Greek mimeisthai, "to imitate". Mimeisthai (probably from Proto-Greek or Pre-Mediterranean languages), as luck would have it, is also the source of meme, which was coined in 1976 (the biological kind, which later gave way to the Internet kind). Throughout all of history, words mimic each other, and mimic is no exception.
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.