When a friend asked me where the word sketch comes from, my first reaction was to guess a Scandinavian origin, since a lot of sk- words tend to ultimately derive from Old Norse. However (through Dutch schets), it came to us in the seventeenth century from the Italian noun schizzo, with the same definition. That's reconstructed to the Latin word schedius, which came from Ancient Greek skhedios, meaning "temporary" or "made suddenly". This is related to English scheme and synechia, as all three words trace to the verb ekhein, meaning "to hold". Finally, ekhein comes from the Proto-Indo-European root seg, which also meant "hold". The word sketchy emerged in 1805 for anything "relating to a sketch", and the modern meaning emerged in 1878 on the notion that sketches are flimsy or unfinished.
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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.