Since our world could use a bit more diplomacy & negotiations these days, why not look into these two words?
The words diplomacy & diplomatic made their way into English in the early to mid-1700s through French from Medieval Latin (followed by diplomat in the early 1800s). The original root meant paper folded double, or fold over, & soon came to be associated with official certificates, charts & licenses. This same root gave us the word diploma.
It wasn’t until 1787 that diplomacy began to mean international relations. By 1826 the word diplomatic came to mean tactful & adroit.
The noun negotiation showed up in English in the early 1400s (through Old French from Latin), meaning business or trade. It is constructed of the word parts neg- (no) & -otium (leisure), & translates to a lack of leisure — suggesting that those involved in negotiations are involved in business as opposed to recreation. In the 1800s, fox hunters (certainly not suffering from a lack of leisure) began using the term negotiate to mean to clear on horseback a fence or other obstacle. Over the years, this meaning generalized to the point that negotiate gained the meaning to tackle successfully.
So, though Hal David & Burt Bacharach made the case that "what the world needs now is love, sweet love," perhaps the world could also use a dose of tactful, adroit, non-leisurely folding over. .
Any thoughts on all this? Please leave them in the comment section.
My thanks go out to this week’s sources: Merriam Webster, Collins Dictionary, Wordnik, & Etymonline.
I write for teens & tweens, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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