Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Have you ever wondered about the etymology of the word entomology? I know I have. Entomology is the study of insects, and the word itself comes from the ancient Greek word for insect, entomon. The word entomon itself is made up of two other Greek words en- ('in') and -tomon, which comes from the verb temnein ('to cut').

The Latin for each of these words is in and sectus (from seco, secare), which of course gives us our English word 'insect', meaning a creature which is cut up into bits, a reference to the segmented division of their bodies (an observation which we apparently owe to Aristotle).

1 comment:

Mike Salter said...

Ah...good old etymology.

One of my students got one over his English teacher the other day; said teacher was positively insisting that entomology was for word origins, etymology for insects. Student (with his invaluable Latin training) was steadfastly maintaining the opposite. The final score was Latin 1, English 0. ;-)