Posted by: episystechpubs | May 17, 2017

Editor’s Corner: -ussion but not Russian

I want to thank Phil R. for bringing these words (and the etymology of discussion, “dashed to pieces”) to my attention. While concussion, discussion, and percussion sound alike, you might think they are completely unrelated outside of their spelling. In fact, they are all from the same root originally, as you can see in their etymologies below. From my favorite etymology website, Online Etymology Dictionary:

concussion (noun)

c. 1400, from Latin concussionem (nominative concussio) "a shaking," noun of action from past participle stem of concutere "shake violently," from com "with, together" (see com-) + quatere "to shake" (see quash).

Modern brain injury sense is from 1540s.

discussion (noun)

mid-14c., "examination, investigation, judicial trial," from Old French discussion "discussion, examination, investigation, legal trial," from Late Latin discussionem (nominative discussio) "examination, discussion," in classical Latin, "a shaking," from discussus, past participle of discutere "strike asunder, break up," from dis- "apart" (see dis) + quatere "to shake" (see quash).

Meaning "a talking over, debating" in English first recorded mid-15c. Sense evolution in Latin appears to have been from "smash apart" to "scatter, disperse," then in post-classical times (via the mental process involved) to "investigate, examine," then to "debate."

percussion (noun)

early 15c., "a striking, a blow; internal injury, contusion," from Latin percussionem (nominative percussio) "a beating, striking; a beat as a measure of time," noun of action from past participle stem of percutere "to strike hard, beat, smite; strike through and through," from per "through" (see per) + quatere "to strike, shake" (see quash).

Reference to musical instruments is first recorded 1776.

Robitussin® (noun)

From Latin robitussinem (nominate robitussio) “striking the chest hard.”

Reference to cold medication first used in 1951. Recorded in MC Chris’s song, The Tussin, 2001.

Okay, I totally made the last one up, except the part about the song, and it is definitely not safe for work, so no links today!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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