This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
What is the etymology of knowledge?
What is the etymology of truth?
What is the etymology of reality?
Submitted by Jennah Huson (Anaheim - U.S.A.)
Signature: Topic imported and archived
knowledge comes from the northern English dialect word knaulage or knowleche and is first cited sometime before 1300. The first element is identical with the SE word know; the problem lies in the second part, the 'ledge'. The OED offers a lengthy and complex note, the burden of which is that the verb form, 'to knowledge', an approximate synonym of 'to acknowledge', is a century older than the noun. This leads to much argument, not helped by the fact that the noun has no parallel in English nor apparently in any Teutonic language. There appear to be some links to the -lic part of Anglo-Saxon words such as efenlíc equal, néahlíc near, rihtlic right, correct.
truth comes from Anglo-Saxon triewth.
reality comes from medieval Latin 'realitas' and French 'réalité'. The ultimate root is the word 'real', which is based on Latin 'res', a thing.
Signature: Jonathon Green
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