Monday, August 13, 2012

Word of the Week - Zone


The other day I was looking up "war zone," and in so doing came across some interesting tidbits on zone. =)

The noun dates to the late fourteenth century, coming directly from the Latin zona, which means "a geographical belt, celestial zone." The Latin in turn comes from the Greek zone, which was the word for "belt." Originally this was used solely to talk of the five great divisions on the surface of the earth--the torrid, temperate, and frigid areas, separated by the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and the Arctic and Antarctic circles.

It wasn't until 1822 that zone was applied to any set region--so I could be pretty sure "war zone" wasn't around yet in 1814, LOL. It was applied to sports in 1927.

Then we have the verb sense coming into play. "Zoning" land for a purpose dates from 1912.

Not to be confused with the oh-so-modern sense of "zone out." This verb is from the 1980s, a back-formation of the adjective "zoned" that's related to drug use, taken from the word ozone. I guess it implies that someone's really high, which I'd never paused to consider. That use is from the 1960s. (Surprise, surprise, LOL.)

So there you go. Some really ancient uses, and some incredibly modern ones. =)

1 comment:

  1. Ohh - a usage that came into being when I was in high school! ;) And it's funny that you never thought of zoning out as being high. Cuz I ALWAYS did :)

    Interesting, my dear (and I'm starting Sandi's book later today - just FYI LOL)

    ReplyDelete