I've always liked the word pecuniary ("of, or pertaining to, money"), and I like it even more now that I know its scintillating origin. The term was borrowed at the turn of the sixteenth century from Latin pecuniarius, which basically had the same definition. The root is pecunia, meaning "wealth", and that is from pecu, meaning "cattle". That might seem like a leap first, but makes more sense when you consider that livestock was a way to measure wealth in old times, so we went from "cattle" to "wealth in cattle" to "wealth". Pecu, probably through Proto-Italic, comes from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction peku, also "cattle". Usage of the word pecuniary in literature over time peaked in 1840 and has been decreasing since then, but it is still a beautiful word with a beautiful etymology.
2/18/2019 04:56:49 pm
And "cattle" meant wealth through Old French "chatel" (English "chattel", property) from Med Latin "capitale", property, which links to your blog of previous day. (Just discovered your very interesting website.)
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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 trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.