Lately, it's been far too easy to focus on "what those people are doing." I'm thinking we can improve the next year by focusing instead on what we ourselves are doing.. For instance, giving.
Give is a word that has been with English speakers for a very long time – actually, even before we had a language called English. Give takes up a whopping seven and a half pages of the OED & has seventy-two meanings, both transitive & intransitive. Wow.
Give came from the Proto-Indo-European word ghabh-, which interestingly meant to have, to hold, to give & to receive. Talk about ann all-purpose word.
Some intriguing bits of trivia:
-The reason we can give someone a cold is the thankfully forgotten belief that by infecting others we can heal ourselves (give someone a cold while taking that person’s health).
-In Old English give started with a y & was spelled yiven (mostly). Nobody knows why, but it looks as though give’s Old Norse cousin gefa (give) influenced it enough to change that initial letter.
-The idiom I don’t give a ____ has been around since the 1300s. Early words that filled in the blank were a straw, a grass & a mite.
-The idiom what gives? was born in the 1940s.
-The related word gift showed up in the 1300s. In Swedish, gift means poison.
-One of the earliest English meanings of gift was natural talent, inspiration.
-Idioms that employ the word give include:
-give the finger
-give someone a break
-give the shirt off one’s back
-give someone the shaft
-give someone the nod
-give someone the evil eye
-give someone five
-give someone the creeps
-give someone a shot
-give someone the third degree
-give someone the low down
-give someone the green light
-give someone a hard time
-give someone a hand
-give someone some skin
-don’t give up our day jobs
In the coming year, may we all be able to focus on our own actions more than the actions of others, and may we all find many ways to give..
Big thanks to this week’s sources Learn American English Online, Wordnik, Etymonline,& the OED
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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