THE JOY OF JEWEL
Money can buy happiness, at least etymologically speaking. The word jewel (through Anglo-Norman juel) derives from the Old French word jouel, or "ornament". There is some debate on where this word comes from, but both theories lead to Latin. The more widely accepted school of thought is that jouel ultimately is from the titular Latin word jocale, meaning "that which causes joy". Since both games and jokes cause laughter, which is associated with joy, it then makes sense that the next step back takes us to the other Latin term iocus, "joke or game". This, through Proto-Italic joko, would ultimately stem from the Proto-Indo-European word for "word", ioko. The other main theory is semantically similar: it suggests that jouel comes from another Latin word for "joy", gaudium. Phonemically, this is kind of a stretch, but if correct, this would take us back to the Proto-Indo-European word gehu, or "to rejoice". Maybe diamonds really are a girl's best friend...
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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.