“It’s all Greek to Me”
Being the word geek that I am, I am always fascinated by the origin of these amazing little compilation of letters we call words. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I enjoy a quick peruse through Webster’s Dictionary, unraveling the many uses of various verbs, nouns, and adjectives. But today, as I learned the deeper meaning of a word I often use, I discovered the Unexpected Health…in words.
Words can and have caused unhealthiness at times: a damaging word can cause great pain in others; words have been misused, creating slander, lies, and lawsuits; and words exchanged in hate can cause division among families, friends, and party lines. But the Unexpected Health in words is that as we uncover the origin of words (say, their Greek meaning), we can accurately describe ourselves, our world, and our feelings…and being able to articulate our human experience is healthy.
Let me explain. I have used the word, “enthusiasm” (and enthusiastic) time and time again. I love that word! I love it because it makes me feel happy and alive. But to be honest, I couldn’t tell you the dictionary definition of it. So of course, I looked it up. Enthusiasm (noun): “absorbing or controlling possession of the mind by any interest or pursuit; lively interest.” That sounds accurate, right?! But today, I was made aware of the Greek translation of enthusiasm, which seems much more accurate. Enthusiasm: “The source of the word is the Greek enthousiasmos, which ultimately comes from the adjective entheos, “having the god within,” formed from en, “in, within,” and theos, “god.””
We often take words for granted. For all of the years I have called people enthusiastic or have been called enthusiastic myself, what I was really saying is that when I described someone with this word, I saw the “god within” them…or people were seeing the “god within” me. That is so much more powerful–so much healthier–than being told that you have a “lively interest” in something.
I was challenged today. I was enlightened by words and the origins of which they were created. I propose that you take some time and delve deeper into the words you use often. Discover their origin, their many definitions, even their Greek translation. That way, the next time you refer to someone using a noun such as enthusiasm, you will be able to share with them the honorable description you have blessed them with. Let us all use our words wisely. -Until tomorrow, Jaime
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