Adventures in Etymology – Adventures Arriving

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we are looking at the origins of the word adventure.

Me doing a tandem paragliding in Queenstown, New Zealand - part of my Kiwi Experience adventures in 1996

An adventure [ədˈvɛnt͡ʃə/ədˈvɛnt͡ʃɚ] is:

  • an exciting or very unusual experience
  • participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises
  • a bold, uncertain and usually risky undertaking

[source]

It comes from the Middle English aventure / a(u)nter (that which happens by chance, fortune, luck), from the Old French aventure (chance, accident, occurrence, event, happening), from the Late Latin adventūrus (about to arrive) from the Latin advenire (to arrive), from ad- (toward) and venīre (to come, approach) [source]

The word adventure has had various meanings over time, including: “risk or danger”, “perilous undertaking”, a “wonder, a miracle; accounts of marvelous things”, and a “novel or exciting incident, remarkable occurrence”. [source].

In the 15th or 16th century the d was added to the English word to make it more like the original Latin version. They tried this in French as well, but it didn’t catch on.

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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