It's almost prom season, and almost nobody in my school realizes that prom is just a shortening of promenade. Right now, the word's main meanings are "to stroll" or "a place where you stroll", but earlier, it could also mean "a formal dance"- the definition that became prom as we know it. Promenade comes from the French word promener, meaning "to walk". That in turn comes from Latin prominare, "to move forward", a portmanteau of the prefix pro- (meaning "forward and coming from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction per, "before") and the root mandare, which meant "to drive an animal", a way shepherds would walk (thus the connection). This, interestingly, is from minari, meaning "to threaten" and a conjugation of minae, "threat". Minae likely comes from a Proto-Indo-European word sounding like men and meaning "to project", which means that the word prom can be said to mean "projecting before" or "threatening forward", depending on how far back you go.
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 University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd