Word Wednesday: “Aedes, EDIF”

Dictionary-latin-greek-originsThis past weekend in a local thrift store I discovered and picked up a new word book – Dictionary of Latin and Greek Origins: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classical Origins of English Words (Barnes & Noble, 2000), co-authored by Bob Moore and Maxine Moore.

Perhaps that title does not strike you as enticing and exciting, but let me tell you that it is a great book with marvelous content! As the title reveals, this special dictionary gives the user the Latin and Greek roots of many common English words. And once you get to that radical word (as in “root”), a whole world of vocabulary opens up to you.

The first listing in this dictionary is a case in point. I’ve given you the Latin root (“aedes”) and the common base form (“EDIF) in the heading to this past, just as the authors do with each listing. In addition, and in between those two words, they give the “core meaning,” in this case “a building, temple.” Now here is the rest of the information on this important Latin word:

The original meaning of aedes was ‘building a hearth,’ the fire in the hearth being the center of the home in early times, furnishing both heat and light. For centuries poets, among others, have spoken of the joys of family and hearth. Over time, its meaning expanded from the hearth itself to the home and building that enclosed it.

It is from this root that our EDIFice derives, usually used in reference to a large and imposing building, often a temple. [Then follows a sample sentence.] “The Greeks worshiped their gods in imposing edifices.”

Eventually EDIFy came to mean instruct, educate, and enlighten, especially morally or spiritually. [Another sample sentence follows.] “The sight of Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome edified all of us. We had never experienced such an edifying moment.” Thus EDIFication is enlightenment, education, instruction, guidance, improvement, and schooling. “For my edification, would you kindly tell me how this fender bender came about?” The apostle Paul wrote in Corinthians, ‘Knowledge puffeth up, but charity EDIFieth.” {Yes, the KJV is referenced!]

An “aedile” (also edile) in ancient Rome was an official in charge of buildings, sports, roads, sanitation services, and other public projects.

Now, you can’t tell me that that isn’t useful verbal information! Look how many words come from that one Latin root! See what knowing a little classical language will do for you? 🙂

Let’s do this again sometime, shall we? Have any common words you want to know the root to? I can guess it has a Latin or Greek origin!

Published in: on December 6, 2017 at 6:16 AM  Comments (3)