Another word request. Sophomore actually has one of the coolest etymologies I've ever seen. It's broken up into two words, both stemming from Greek. The first of these, sophos, was a Greek word primarily meaning "clever" but in this case meaning "wise". This is the same root from which we get today's word "sophisticated". However, the second part of sophomore, the (in this case) suffix -more, came all the way from the Greek word moros. This meant "fool" or "idiot" and is also the root of the word "moron" today. Sophomore was spelled sophumer when it was used in the seventeenth century, but the spelling has evolved over time. The definition, "in second year of high school or college", though, has remained constant, a striking change from the original meaning. Now, you may still be scratching your head about the oxymoron I dropped, then digressed from so offhandedly two sentences ago. Sophomore is indeed a portmanteau of a word meaning "stupid" and a word meaning "smart". It described the tendency of adolescents to behave so irrationally despite thinking rationally sometimes. Etymology is so amazing!!!
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.