I like to call my site a lexophile's sanctum. The first word is archaic and most dictionaries deny its existence, but it means "word lover" and sounds much better than logophile, in my opinion. The second word is commonly known, meaning a private or sacred place. As you can guess from the title, and length of this blog post, there are a whole lot of words connected to it. Sanctum has one of the simplest origins: it comes from Latin sanctus, meaning "holy", a conjugation of the root sancire, "to consecrate" (declaring something holy), which in turn derives from the Proto-Indo-European root sehk, with the same definition. Now, one of the first things you may have thought about is how similar the word sanctum is to the word sanctuary. This is not without a good reason; they are each other's closest relatives, perhaps, with sanctuary coming to us from the root sanctus as well (through Latin sanctuariam, "shrine", then Old French saintuaire). Additionally from sanctus, there is the word saint, which took the route of the Old French word seinte. Now we move back to the earlier Latin root and predecessor of sanctus, sancire, which, as a reminder, meant "consecrate". This gave us the word sanction (through Latin sanctionem), because the meaning of a "holy decree" got shifted over time to a "legal decree". Finally, the remaining relatives of sanctum can be found branching off from PIE sehk, through Latin: the words sacred and sacrament come to us through Latin sacer, which also meant "holy" (through Old French sacrer and sacrament, respectively; the latter also had a meaning of "mysterious" for a while). Also related are terms like sacrifice, sacrilege, sacristy, sacrosanct, Sacramento, sacrum, sanctitude, and sanctimony, but, quite honestly, I've proven my point that Latin holiness has pervaded our culture, they would take too long to explain, and I need to save something for future blog posts!
Adam Aleksic is a 221-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