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Monday, December 19, 2011

Etymology of the Day: Condolences

Posted by on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 3:32 PM

"formal declaration of sympathy," 1670s, pl. of condolence. Reason for the plural is unclear; earliest references are to expressions from groups of persons; perhaps the habit stuck.

condole (v.)
late 15c., "to sorrow," from L.L. condolere "to suffer with another," from com- "with" (see com-) + dolere "to grieve." Meaning "to express condolences" is recorded from 1650s.

"Condolences" feels like such a formal word these days, but at its heart it doesn't just mean: "I pity your sorrow from afar." It means: "I suffer with you."


Comments (6) RSS

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briantrice 1
It only sounds formal because it tweaks the French/Latin aesthetic borrowed into English, and not the Germanic.
Posted by briantrice on December 19, 2011 at 3:43 PM · Report this
I had a friend pass recently and this is oddly helpful. Thank you.
Posted by DawginExile on December 19, 2011 at 4:25 PM · Report this
Hyzenthlayk9 3
Thanks Brendan.

I, along with @2 find it timely and oddly helpful.
Posted by Hyzenthlayk9 on December 19, 2011 at 6:52 PM · Report this
leek 4
"Compassion," too, boils down to "suffering with."
Posted by leek on December 19, 2011 at 7:48 PM · Report this
beelzebufo 5
for Cesaria Evora, Vaclav Havel, or Kim Jong Il?
Posted by beelzebufo on December 19, 2011 at 8:41 PM · Report this
YakHerder 6
And "companion," at bottom, just means "bread with," which I find wonderful.
Posted by YakHerder on December 19, 2011 at 9:20 PM · Report this

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