Vocabulary Strategy: A History of Words

For many students of English, learning vocabulary seems like an ongoing struggle. However, one way to help you remember vocabulary words may be looking toward history. Last week, we discussed the rich history that English has—and fortunately that history can help us in many ways. Because English is connected to so many languages, when we look at the origin of English words, we may find familiar stories!

Let’s look at an example. Since today is Friday, “Friday” seems like an appropriate word for today. “Friday,” like most of the names for the days of the week, was named after a mythological goddess! In Scandinavian or Germanic mythology, the goddess of married love was named “Frigg.” The sixth day of the week was given to Frigg, thus naming the day “Frigg’s day,” or in Modern English, “Friday.”

Many Germanic languages also used the goddess Frigg for their translation of Friday: German – Freitag, Norwegian – Fredag, Afrikaans – Vrydag. Interestingly, the Roman goddess of love is Venus. Many Latin-based languages use her name for Friday: Spanish – viernes, Italian – venerdì, Romanian – Vineri, French – vendredi.

Finding out the history of words is not the only strategy for learning and remembering vocabulary. Come study at Nomen Global for more ways to build your word bank!

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