Daily Language Investigations for English Language Arts
Lesson 3.6 Vocabulary Development: Dictionary Work
In the Middle Ages, the word grammar was used to refer to the knowledge or study of Latin, and so was often used to mean learning in general. As the knowledge of the educated class was popularly supposed to include magic and astrology, the Old French word gramaire was sometimes used as a name for these occult sciences. Glamour was a variant Scots English form of grammar, which meant “magic, enchantment, or spell.” It then came to mean “a magical or fictitious beauty attaching to any person or object; a delusive or alluring charm,” and finally simply “charm; attractiveness; physical allure, especially feminine beauty.” (Definitions from Oxford English Dictionary Online.)
Another interesting etymology related to language study is the Latin word trivium. In medieval universities, three subjects, grammar, logic, and rhetoric, made up the trivium. The word itself meant a place where three roads meet (from tri- ‘three’ and via ‘road’), which is in turn derived from the word trivialis, which meant “that which is in or belongs to the crossroads or public streets; hence, that which might be found anywhere, common.” From this comes our modern word trivial.
Activity: Look up these words in a good dictionary to see their surprising connections to each other: one and onion, grenade and pomegranate, association and soccer, spruce (up) and Prussia, partridge and fart, cinema and kinetic.
Or simply take other words relevant to your class curriculum and look them up. You always learn something by looking up words, even ones you already know, in a good dictionary!
key words: language change, etymology, history of English, dictionaries, meaning
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3d Use glossaries or beginning dictionaries, both print and digital, to determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.4c Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.4c Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.
Here is this lesson as a pdf.