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Here’s a classical primer of political word origins



Here’s a classical primer of political word origins

(ASSOCIATED PRESS) Democrat Joe Biden (left) and Republican Mike Pence take a break from campaigning to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 in New York. We Americans are caught in the grip of a feverish, frenetic, fervent, frantic and frenzied presidential campaign that demonstrates why in England people stand for election, but in the United States they run. It’s also a time that demonstrates that, although the classical societies of ancient Greece and Rome have vanished, Greek and Roman thought endures and prevails in the parlance of politics.

Taking first things first, we’ll start with the word primary , which descends from the Latin primus , “first.” Primary, as a shortening of “primary election,” is first recorded in 1861. Latin e means “out” and lectus “pick or choose.” In an election we “pick out” candidates we wish to vote for.

As the joke goes, the etymology of the word politics derives from poly , “many,” and tics , which are blood-sucking parasites. In truth politics issues from the Greek word polities , “city, citizen.” Politics may make strange bedfellows, but, as we shall see, politics makes for even stranger, and sometimes colorful, vocabulary.

Campaign is very much a fighting word. The Latin […]

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