A System of Logic

John Stuart Mill

Book 4, Chapter 4, Footnote #01
Illustrations of meaning transition

``E, ex, extra, extraneus, etranger, stranger.''

Another etymological example sometimes cited is the derivation of the English uncle from the Latin avus. it is scarcely plausible for two words to bear fewer outward marks of relationship, yet there is but one step between them---avus, avunculus, uncle. So pilgrim, from ager: per agrum, peragrinus, peregrinus, pellegrino, pilgrim.

Professor Bain gives some apt examples< of these transitions of meaning. ``The word `damp' primarily signified moist, humid, wet. But the property is often accompanied with the feeling of cold or chillness, and hence the idea of cold Is strongly suggested by the word. This is not all. Proceeding upon the superadded meaning, we speak of damping a man's ardour, a metaphor where the cooling is the only circumstance concerned; we go on still further to designate the iron slide that shuts off the draft of a stove, `the damper', the primary meaning being now entirely dropped. `Dry', in like manner, through signifying the absence of moisture, water, or liquidity, is applied to sulphuric acid containing water, although not thereby ceasing to be a moist, wet, or liquid substance.'' So in the phrases dry sherry or champagne.

```Street', originally a paved way, with or without houses, has been extended to roads lined with houses, whether paved or unpaved. `Impertinent' signified at first irrelevant, alien to the purpose in hand, through which it has come to mean meddling, intrusive, unmannerly, insolent'' (Logic, ii. 173, 174)

[Back to:]
Sol, Book 4, Chapter 4 On the Requisites of a Philosophical Language