[Taxacom] The word Botany

Sergio Vargas sevragorgia at gmail.com
Tue Jan 6 22:07:23 CST 2009


I have checked with some friends (who are Spanish philologists) about the
origin of the word Botany. Here's the answer after they consulted about 3
different dictionaries:



1726. From Greek botanikós, derived from botanē, 'herb'. The derived term
Botany was first introduced in 1726[1], probably through the english
language[4]. (see note 1 bellow)

  Word composition [2,3]:

Tanatikós: death, capital death.

Botanē: herb.

-y: suffix: technical voice. (not sure about this in english!!!! see note 2


bo: botanē=herb.

tan: tanatós=death.

y: technical voice=occupation.

 Botany: the occupation dealing with dead herbs.

Botanist: that one who works with dead herbs.


Isabel Jara Quesada (IJQ), Filología, Universidad de Costa Rica, kindly
prepared the etymology for the Spanish word Botánica.  I (Sergio Vargas)
translated it to English.

The following (first 3) references were consulted by IJQ:


1. Corominas, Joan. Breve diccionario etimológico de la lengua castellana.
Barcelona, Gredos, 3ra ed. 13va reimpresión, 2006.

2. BOX. Diccionario manual griego-español. Barcelona, 28va ed. 1998.

3. Pequeño Larousse Ilustrado, Paris, Libraire Larousse, 1964.

4. Citation required.



Note 1:

We are not sure about this, and some research is still needed. The words was
first use in 1726, by whom remains to be determined. Also the language,
English (not French) seems to be the best choice for now given the year.

Note 2:

ok... now, I had the etymology of the word in Spanish, I translated most of
it but had serious troubles with the suffix -y which correspond to the
Spanish suffix -ica (that indicates "oficio"=job, occupation). I checked
some English dictionaries and the -y suffix seem to be defined only for
words such as brainy, chilly, dopey, etc. but not for denoting a technical
occupation when the word derives from Greek. Thus, I would appreciate to
have some opinion about this issue.

I had less trouble finding the meaning of the suffix -ist:

The suffix -ist is used to denote a person who either practices something or
a person who is concerned with something or a person who holds certain
principles, doctrines, etc.

Then, botanist=a person who works with dead herbs.

any ways...

I hope it helps!

If the suffix -y issue can be improved I can update the etymology available
at wikipedia (as requested).



Sergio Vargas R. M.Sc.
Center for Marine and Limnological Research
University of Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica
tel. +506 2511 3017
sergio.vargasr at ecci.ucr.ac.cr
sevragorgia at gmail.com

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