Monday, March 14, 2005

Word history: nonchalant

I had another word history in my Word a Day calendar Friday, this time on "nonchalant."
A nonchalant person is not likely to become warm or heated about anything, a fact that is underscored by the etymology of the word nonchalant. It stems from Old French, where it was formed from the negative prefix non- plust chalant, the present participle of the verb chaloir, "to be concerned." This in turn came from the Latin word calere, which from its concrete sense "to be hot or warm" developed the figurative sense "to be roused or fired with hope, zeal, or anger." French formed a noun nonchalance from the adjective nonchalant that was borrowed into English by 1678; the adjective itself was borrowe later, as it is not attested for another half-century.

3 Comments:

At 3:59 PM, March 14, 2005, Blogger Etaoin Shrdlu said...

When I was in college, we'd always joke about finding a chalant person or cheveled.

But life on the desk often requires you to be chalant, or concerned at the very least.

 
At 5:08 PM, March 14, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

Heh. We always talked about being "whelmed."

 
At 5:35 PM, March 14, 2005, Blogger Etaoin Shrdlu said...

Plused, as in nonplused, was another favorite. And a reporter at my first job loved to mock extricate, saying, "What ever happened to just regular cate?"

 

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