Friday, March 18, 2005

who knew?

Maybe this is strange, but I really like studying etymology. I found the origin of today's Word of the Day (from Merriam Webster) to be rather interesting.

capricious - \kuh-PRISH-us\ - adjective
: goverened or characterized by sudden, impulsive and seemingly unmotivated ideas or actions : unpredictable

Did You Know?
The noun "caprice," which first appeared in English in the mid-17th century, is a synonym of "whim." Evidence shows that the adjective "capricious" debuted about sixty years before "caprice"; however, it's likely that both words derived via French from the Italian "capriccio," which originally referred not to a sudden desire, but to a sudden shudder of fear. "Capriccio" in turn derives from the Italian "capo," meaning "head," and "riccio," the word for "hedgehog." Someone who shuddered in fear, therefore, was said to have a "hedgehog head"—meaning that his or her hair stood on end like the spines of a hedgehog. Though no longer associated with fear, "capricious" now describes someone who acts through impulse instead of reason, perhaps as a fearful person might.
posted by Christie