When trying to reach a goal, whether New Year’s resolution or otherwise, what works best for you? Coercing or compelling yourself? Promising, encouraging or goading yourself? Or maybe wishing? Do any of these words’ etymologies throw light on who you are or how you reach your goals?
The word wish came from the Old English word wyscan, meaning to strive after, wish, desire, or be satisfied.
To coerce is to control or restrain, & appeared in English in the 1400s from the French word cohercer. It most likely came from a Proto-Indo-European word meaning to hold, contain or guard.
Compel comes from the Old French word compeller, which was derived from a Latin word meaning to drive together, to force.
The noun promise showed up in the 1400s, meaning declaration made about the future, about some act to be done or not done. The verb showed up within a century, meaning to send forth or foretell.
Encourage came to English in the 1400s from the French word encoragier, meaning to make strong or to hearten – it’s related to the word courage.
The verb goad came from the Old English noun gad, meaning point, spearhead or arrowhead,
When it comes to resolutions, I find it fascinating that since the 1400s the first meaning of the word resolution has been a breaking into parts. Doesn’t our success in reaching some big goal almost always involve exactly that? No significant success is simple. By the 1540s, resolution’s adjectival sibling resolute picked up the meaning holding firmly.
What verb above helps you hold firmly to your goals or resolutions? Striving? Containment? Force? Foretelling? Poking yourself with a spearhead? Are there other verbs I left out? Please let me know in the comments section.
My thanks go out to this week’s sources, Collins Dictionary, The OED & 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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