I’m fascinated by words, and how they arrived in our everyday language; sometimes it’s quite obvious, you can guess they were Old English of one sort or another or came from another language – especially Latin, not just brought by the Romans, but as used in the church and monasteries, and law etc, or French as brought by the Normans.
The other day I used the word quandary (and I confess I had to check the spelling because I thought it was ‘quandry‘ – and me an English teacher!) and I thought it must come from Latin, maybe via French, so I looked it up. Actually, it just arrived some time in the sixteenth century, and although it might have come from Latin ‘quando’ meaning when, it’s more likely to have been what the Online Etymology Dictionary describes as ‘a quasi-Latinism’.
There are plenty of synonyms for it:
- delicate situation
- double trouble
- up a tree
… and that’s a shortened version of the list I found!
‘Quando’ made me think of the song… Connie Francis, born Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero, sings ‘Quando, quando, quando’