Monday, January 19, 2015

Word of the Week - Raise V. Raze

A week or two ago, my best friend sent me one of those hilarious "someecards" photos on Pinterest that totally sums up my outlook on housework.
I love this. But I'm also enough of a grammarian that I had to point out the typo, LOL.

I was in college, reading all the ancient Greeks with their love of flattening opposing cities, when I came upon the word raze. While raise means "lift up," the homophone raze means "tear down." Don't you just love English?? LOL

Apparently raze, which dates to about 1540, is an alteration of rasen, a 14th century word coming from Old French that meant "to scratch, slash, erase." We see that meaning preserved in erase, which is quite closely related (who knew?).

Raise, on the other hand, comes from a Scandinavian source, likely Old Norse. It dates from about 1200 and has always meant what it means now, in the physical sense. The meaning like "raise from the dead" comes from a literal "make higher" that is taken from that physical sense, and is from about 1300. "Increase the amount" joined the fray in 1500s, usually speaking of money or price. "Bring up a question" dates from the 1640s. In the 1660s it was also applied to growing crops. It was applied to rearing children in about 1744 (though not everywhere--apparently American Southerners used it to speak of breeding slaves, and Northerners wouldn't use it of children at all, only of crops.) And finally, in the 1820s, it became a phrase used in playing cards.

2 comments:

  1. You know what's funny? I had never seen (or never noticed, anyway) the word raze before that conversation. And then over the weekend, it was used in the book I'm reading. I felt so smart to actually know what it meant :)

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    1. Ha! Isn't that always the way? Kinda like how in middle/high school, spelling words always appeared in books I was reading where I'd never noticed them before. =) (If I was lucky, while the test was still underway and I had time to change answers if necessary...)

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