Adventures in Etymology – Technology

Today we’re exploring the origins of the word technology.


Technology [tɛkˈnɒlədʒi / tɛkˈnɑlədʒi] is:

  • The organization of knowledge for practical purposes.
  • All the different and usable technologies developed by a culture or people.
  • Any useful skill or mechanism that was developed or invented.

It comes from the Ancient Greek τεχνολογία [te.xno.loˈɣi.a] (systematic treatment of grammar), from τέχνη [té.kʰnɛː] (craft, skill, trade, art) and -λογία [lo.ɡí.aː] (study) [source].

τέχνη comes from the PIE *tetḱ- (to create, produce), which is the root of English words like text, textile, context, subtle and architect. [source].

-λογία comes from λόγος [ló.ɡos] (word, sentence, speech), from λέγω [lé.ɡɔː] (I say, speak, arrange, gather), from the PIE *leǵ- (to gather, collect), which is the root of such English words as collect, dialect, elect, intellect, legion and legend [source].

The Latin word legō [ˈle.ɡo] (I choose, select, collect, gather, read), also comes from the same PIE root, and from it we get words like leggere [ˈlɛd.d͡ʒ] (to read) in Italian, lire [liʁ] (to read) in French, and lesen [ˈleːzn̩] (to read, select, gather) in German [source].

Incidentally, the name Lego, as in the little plastic bricks, comes from a differnt source: the Danish phrase leg godt (“play well”) – the leg comes from the Old Norse leikr (game, sport, contest), from the Proto-Germanic *laikaz (dance, game, sport) which is possibly the root of the English word lark (romp, frolic, prank) [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

The Fastest Way to Learn Korean with KoreanClass101

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *