Posted by: Jack Henry | November 13, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Belated Veterans Day

Hello, everyone!

Since we’re only writing Editor’s Corner twice a week, I’m a little late with this one. My apologies! We observed Veterans Day yesterday, but I wanted to acknowledge and thank our veterans in a different way today, by looking at some of the words we use in English that come from the world of warfare. This is only a partial list, but if you’d like to see more, go to Daily Writing Tips.

army: from medieval Latin armata (“army”)—also the source of the Spanish term armada, meaning “war fleet”—referring to a nation’s entire body of land forces or to one major unit of that body

brigade: from Italian briga (“quarrel”), a word for a unit consisting of thousands of soldiers or, by extension, to any large group of people organized according to common belief or toward achievement of a common goal; brigadier is a military rank for someone in command of a brigade, and related words are brigand (originally meaning “soldier” but later denoting a bandit) and brig and brigantine for types of warships during the Age of Sail (the use of the former as prison ships led to brig being applied to military prisons)

corps: from Latin corpus (“body”), a set unit of tens of thousands of soldiers; by extension, also a more or less numerous group of people involved in the same activity, such as the press corps or a corps de ballet, or ballet company

fleet: from Old English fleotan (“float”), a set unit of military naval vessels or the entirety of such vessels belonging to a navy or to a company; by extension, now also applied to collections of vehicles, such as a group of cars owned by a company or a government agency and available for employees’ use

legion: from Latin legere (“gather”), originally a Roman military unit equivalent to a modern brigade; now, vaguely describes a multitude

platoon: from French pelaton (“little ball”), originally referring only to a set unit of about several dozen soldiers and by extension coming to mean a squad of athletes with a common function (such as offensive and defensive teams in football) or any group of people with a common characteristic or goal

regiment: ultimately from Latin regere (“lead straight” or “rule”), regimen was adopted into English to refer primarily to a fitness or health plan, but its cognate regiment refers to a military unit of about a thousand or more soldiers; to regiment is to control strictly

squad: ultimately from Vulgar Latin [KC – Ooh, I love me some vulgar Latin!] exquadrare (“make square”) by way of Middle French esquade, initially denoting a set unit of about a dozen soldiers but later also referring in general to a small group engaged in an activity (see also squadron)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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