Adventures in Etymology – Words and Verbs

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we are looking at the origins of the word word [wɜːd/wɝd].

Words in various European languages

A word is:

  • a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.


It comes from the Middle English word [wurd/wɔrd] (word), from the Old English word [word] (word, speech, verb, news), from the Proto-Germanic *wurdą [ˈwur.ðɑ̃] (word), from the PIE *wr̥dʰh₁om (word) from *werh₁- (to speak, say) [source]

The word verb comes from the same root, via the Middle English verbe [ˈvɛrb(ə)] (verb), from the Old French verbe (word, phrasing), from the Latin verbum [ˈu̯er.bum] (word, proverb, verb), from the Proto-Italic *werβom (word) [source].

The word verve [vɜːv/vɝv] (great vitality, enthusiasm, liveliness, sparkle) comes from the same Latin root (verbum), via the French verve [vɛʁv] (witty eloquence), and the Late Latin verva [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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