The word utopia just made me respect sixteenth-century humanist writers a lot more. Utopia as we know it can be traced back to Thomas More's most famous novel about an island where everything is perfect. The creation of this world is sort of a clever pun; it's a portmanteau of the Ancient Greek prefix ou- , meaning "not", and the stem topos, "place". This is HILARIOUS because More is commenting both that his island is imaginary and that utopias are impossible in real life. The prefix ou- derives from the Proto-Indo-European word that roughly sounded like hoyu and roughly could be defined as "never". Topos has a much more mysterious background. That's because etymologists can't trace it back any further, due to the wide semantic range of the word, which also could be defined as "region, space, or part of speech". Anyway, society can't be perfect, even etymologically speaking.
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 College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd