Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Etymological Investigations: It's Time to Celebrate!

Here at The Lingua File we're fascinated with the history and origins of words, so today we're starting a new series of posts on etymological investigations. If you're not sure what all etymology entails, then be sure to check out our previous Intro to Linguistics post that looks into the meaning of etymology. Today, we're going to start our investigations with a look at the etymology of the word "party" and its various synonyms to help you come up with a clever name for your next celebration.

Party comes from the French term partie, which originally meant "portion" or "division". It was first used to refer to a general "social gathering for pleasure" in the early 1700s.

French also gives us the word soiree, or soirée if you're a stickler for correct spelling. It comes from soir, the French word for "evening", which makes perfect sense given that a soiree is usually a formal evening party.

Perhaps you're looking for a more informal term for party. If so, there are plenty to choose from. In the U.S., you might say you're having a get-together, a clear combination of the words get and together. On the other hand, you might say you're having a do if you're in the UK, a slang appropriation of the identical English verb.

If this is the type of party you're planning,
you should probably call it a rave.
If you're looking for a slightly more interesting-sounding word, shindig might be the term for you. Its origins aren't certain, but it has been suggested that it comes from the word shindy, meaning "a spree" or "merrymaking", or possibly the Scottish Gaelic term sìnteag, meaning "jump".

A party with a focus on Mexican or Spanish food might best be named a fiesta, which coincidentally is the Spanish word for "feast" or "party", originally from the Latin festum. It's also closely related to the French word fête, which would be great for a French-themed party.

Having a big party? It could be called a bash, which comes from the Old Norse verb basca, meaning "to strike or beat". It has been used as a slang word for a party since the early 1900s. If it's a wild party you're planning, you might want to call it a rave instead, which comes from the French verb raver, meaning "to show signs of madness or delirium".

Finally, we have jamboree. Though not often used, it's certainly a fun word to say. It has been around since the early 1900s when it was used by the Scouts to refer to a "rowdy, boisterous gathering", though its origins are unknown. 

Did we leave out your favorite celebration-related word? Let us know in the comments below.