Posted by: Jack Henry | August 11, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Horoscope and Skeptic

It’s been a while since I’ve shared an excerpt from Words of a Feather: A Humorous Puzzlement of Etymological Pairs, by Murray Suid. Today seems like a great day to return to this book on my desk and tell you what Mr. Suid has to say about horoscopes and skeptics.

Horoscope & Skeptic

Skeptics tend not to believe in the possibility of gaining predictive information by studying the horoscope. But here’s something they should believe: horoscope and skeptic are words of a feather. And this is their lucky day to learn all about it.

Horoscope comes from the Middle French horoscope, which traces back to the Latin horoscopus, which in turn was borrowed from the Greek compound horoskopos, which combined hora, “hour,” plus skopos, “watching.” In the context of astrology, this refers to watching the hour of one’s birth. According to astrologers, knowing the positions of the celestial bodies at the birth hour is critical for correctly interpreting the horoscope. At this point, our skeptic readers may be curious to know: “What’s the connection between this mumbo-jumbo and us?” Here’s the answer: Skeptic, originally used to name a member of a philosophical school existing more than two millennia ago, comes from the Greek skeptesthai, “to look,” which traces back to skopos, which we just learned is the source of the second half of horoscope. Horoscopists fix their attention on the pattern of the stars, while skeptics use their perceptive skills to look at everything. Why do some people believe in astrology while others laugh at it? It could be a matter of when you’re born…or not.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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