I always associated the word immolation with people lighting themselves on fire for political purposes. But the definition is closer to "sacrifice by burning". The word comes from the Latin verb immolare, which meant something even more specific: "to sprinkle with sacrificial meal", because that had to be done before burning something for sacrifice. This literally breaks down into the component words: im-, meaning "to" or "upon", mola, meaning "meal", and the -ere suffix implies an action. Im- can be derived from the Proto-Indo-European root en, which meant "in". Meanwhile, mola earlier meant "flour" (as many meals are made of flour) and developed from Proto-Indo-European mele, which meant "to grind", as flour is ground. The verb immolate was introduced in the 1540s, peaked in usage in the 1840s, and has become less common since then. This is such an amazing etymology; I'm so engrossed.
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.