Friday, October 18, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

Some words don't mean what you think they mean. Er, they didn't used to.

Or - Old people like to share their knowledge.

I was taking J to his apartment this week (He's in a wheel chair right now and needs to be escorted everywhere.) when we got into an interesting conversation. (Read that: J started talking to me about things he finds interesting. *wink*) He began asking me if I knew what a certain phrase meant. Since I had never heard it before, I had no idea of it's meaning.
J was delighted to go into a full explanation.
And then he gave me an assignment. He asked me, "Do you know what 'manufacture' means? How about 'sinister'?" Feeling confident about my vocabulary, I told J I did - in fact - know the meaning of those two words. But he challenged me with their original meanings. Did I know those??? Based upon J's amazing knowledge of the previously mentioned phrase, I figured he must know more than me, so I claimed ignorance. And that's when I received my assignment.
"Get a dictionary," he said, "and look up those words. You'll be surprised at what they originally meant."

So I did. I dusted off our dictionary at home and looked up 'manufacture' and 'sinister'.
And I found nothing of much interest. Certainly nothing which surprised me! Which is when I decided to get serious about my research.
That's right.
I turned to Google!
And that's where I discovered a little more knowledge about the word 'sinister'. While today it means something along the lines of 'evil' or 'threatening', it's original meaning in its Latin form is "left-handed". Apparently, in some cultures the left side (and therefore, left-handedness) was deemed negative, so if you were left-handed you were considered evil. And over time, the term meaning left-handed came to mean evil. (Thanks for the concise insight, Wikipedia!)

I couldn't find anything about 'manufacture' which seemed out of the ordinary, so I guess I'll have to ask J about that when I give him my 'sinister' report.
(Which is much different than a 'sinister report'. *wink*)
And I trust he'll give me some education, because it seems old people like to share their knowledge.

If you know the secret meaning, do tell me about it in the comments - so I can impress J the next time I talk to him!


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