Adventures in Etymology 21 – Circle

Today we are looking at the word circle [ˈsɜː.kəɫ / ˈsɝ.kəɫ].

Circles made with fire poi on Brighton beach

Definition:

  • A shape consisting of a curved line completely surrounding an area, every part of which is the same distance from the centre of the area.

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word circle, cercle, from the Old French cercle [ˈtser.klə] (circle), from the Latin circulus [ˈkɪɾkʊɫ̪ʊs̠] (circle, orbit, ring, hoop, necklace, chain, company, group), a diminutive of circus [ˈkɪɾkʊs̠] (orbit, circle, ring, racecourse, circus), from the Ancient Greek κίρκος [kír.kos] (type of hawk, or falcon, type of wolf, circle, ring, racecourse, circus), from the PIE *(s)ker- (to bend, turn) [source].

Some English words from the same root include: ring, rink, cross, crown, corona, curb, curtain, curve, crisp and crest [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog.

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