“I like good strong words that mean something.” – Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
I communicate a lot. In a given week, it is not uncommon for me to write over 10,000 words. In addition to writing, I’m sure I’m at least on par with the average for males of 7,000 spoken words per day, and I do my share of non-verbal communicating (especially in traffic…). But the writing, in particular, makes me a perennial student of vocabulary, grammar, and style. It’s not that I’m hung up on being technically correct – I’m certain an English major could get carpal tunnel syndrome correcting my work – it’s that I’m hung up on communicating effectively.
Because of my obsession with words, I spend a lot of time looking up definitions and even origins of words. I recently researched the word “encourage” and discovered that it comes from the ancient French “en” + “corage”, meaning “to put courage in.” Think about that the next time you encourage someone – you’re literally putting courage in them – that’s powerful!
One of my favorite websites is etymonline.com It’s a great site and they graciously allow me to share their content, hence the attached graphic on the origin of “coach.” As you can see, it means “a large kind of carriage.” In the instructor/trainer sense, it originated as slang for someone who “carries” a student through an exam – there’s a visual! Though I’ve yet to literally carry anyone, the usage still applies. As a coach I help “carry” people through the various exams they face all the time – that’s exactly why I love coaching!
Take a minute to go look up the origins of your favorite words and you’ll be amazed at some of the treasure you’ll uncover! Share something you find in the comments.