Posted by: episystechpubs | October 12, 2015

Editor’s Corner: The Little Word Fit

Good morning, everyone.

I was out enjoying the beautiful San Diego sunshine a few days ago, and my sense of peacefulness was interrupted by a young child throwing a fit. Let’s ignore the fact that Skyler’s parents were the “just ignore him and he’ll probably stop” kind of parents. Instead, let’s talk about the etymology of the very versatile word fit.

I gathered this information from the Daily Writing Tips website.

The little word fit has multiple functions and occurs in numerous expressions.

In Middle English, the noun fit denoted an intense experience that could be painful, dangerous, or exciting.

By the 16th century, a fit could denote a paroxysm, or the recurrent attack of an ailment.

In the 17th century fit took on the meaning of a sudden seizure with loss of consciousness, or accompanied with convulsions.

By the 19th century, fit was used in expressions of exaggeration such as “to throw a fit” in the sense of “to fly into a rage.”

Because fits are of limited duration, the noun fit also took on the sense of a limited, usually brief, period of time: “We’ve had a fit of wet weather.”

Fit also functions as an adjective: a synonym for appropriate or well-suited. For example, a man might be “fit for a certain job,” or a certain type of food might be “fit for an invalid.” Fit can also mean inclined or disposed. A tired person might be “fit to collapse.” An angry person might be “fit to be tied.” A child trying to keep a secret might be “fit to burst.”

Fit (and fitting) also applies to social behavior. In Gone With the Wind, the character Mammy uses the word in this sense when she reprimands Scarlett for unladylike behavior: “It ain’t fittin; it just ain’t fittin’.”

In the 19th century, fit took on the meaning “in good health” or “in good physical condition.” People go to the gym “to get fit.”

As a verb, in addition to meanings related to those mentioned, fit can mean “to be of the right shape and size.”

Tomorrow I have some information about common expressions that include the word fit. Stay tuned!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432


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