The word clairvoyant was first recorded in a 1672 play written by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, with the definition "clear-sighted". This was the predominant sense for a while until "clear sight" gave way to "foresight" and it eventually got tied to the idea of psychic powers around the middle of the nineteenth century. The word comes directly from French, where it literally meant "seeing clearly", from the word clair (also the source of the name Claire), meaning "clear", and the present participle of the verb voir, "to see" (which also shows up in voila, voyeur, and interview). The former is from Latin clarus, which derives from Proto-Indo-European kele, meaning "to shout". The latter is also Latin, coming from the verb videre and eventually Proto-Indo-European weid, still "to see".
Leave a Reply.
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.