I’m an etymologist at heart, fascinated by the origin of words. I could spend hours leafing through a dictionary, pondering the fusion of so many languages; a little bit of Latin here and some Greek over there. The broken pieces from the tower of Babel glued together and rebuilt into the English language.
Like any writer, I have a list of favorite words. The list is eclectic, different words on it for different reasons. Appropriately, I like the word “vernacular” because it’s a sophisticated way to say “everyday language”. I like the word “mahogany” simply for the way it sounds rolling around in my mouth. But my all time favorite word is “saunter” – to stroll in a leisurely manner. It conjures up such a lovely image. I envision an older gentleman walking peacefully in a park, taking in his surroundings and appreciating nature. I can’t remember the last time a took a stroll. I have one walking pace: brisk.
I was introduced to the word saunter in an article (can’t cite this) which traced its roots to French “sans terre” – one without land. Easy to saunter when all the world’s at your disposal. No one saunters to a destination. The word and it’s proposed origin have stayed with me since as a bit of an inspiration to slow down and savor my surroundings.
Etymology involves taking the time to peel the layers of a word, to decode its core meaning. It’s in the nuance where we feel a word’s inherent meaning. Walk briskly through a park and you’ll get exercise. Saunter along that same path and you’ll discover it’s true beauty.