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The Science Of Words

Everyday we use hundreds of words. But have you ever wondered where words come from? The science of words and their origin is called etymology. Here is how we got a few of the words we use everyday. (1) Jeans: People in Genoa, Italy, probably never guesed that city would lend its name to the world's favourite piece of clothing. But that is what happened. During the Middle Ages, people in Genoa made a heavy cotton fabric like denim. The English word for Genoa was gene or Jene, and came to describe the fabric made there. The spelling was later changed to "Jeans and used for the garment from the fabric. (2) Telephone: Telephone comes from two Greek words: tele meaning "far. Check out telescope and television, and phone meaning "sound, as in the microphone. So telephone means "far sound, and the invention that allows us to send the sound far away. (3) Curfew: The word, curfew, originated in France in the Middle Ages. A signal called 'coure feu' in French was given at night for people to put out fire in their fire places. This would prevent fire from spreading through the village, as people's houses were built very close together. People who did not obey the curfew as we now call it in English, probably got into big trouble. Sounds familiar? (4) Grounded: The word, grounded, that you may also hear when you get into trouble was probably first used with airplanes. When a plane cannot leave the ground because of weather or mechanical problems, it is grounded. Obviously, the plane cannot go anywhere. And when you get grounded, maybe because you did not obey your curfew, you cannot go anywhere either. (5) Hamburger: Ever wonder why "hamburgers are not made of ham? The word, hamburger, comes from the name of the city where it was invented. In Hamburg, Germany, ground beef was called a "Hamburg Steak, and when German immigrants got to America, they brought it with them. Now we use the word, "burger, for hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bacon burgers, you can name them. Words are powerful tools in human life. The words we use can either build people up or tear them down. This explains the saying. "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. This week as you see people or a friend who is down or discouraged, be ready to give the good word to cheer him or her up.

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