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solace and consolation

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:15 am
by gdwdwrkr
A friend whose brother has just been admitted to an alzheimers unit in a faraway state is finding solace and consolation in some of the good qualities of the unit. Seeing the words together makes me wonder about their origins. I'm wondering if there is any solar-energy in their comfort.

Re: solace and consolation

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:57 pm
by Erik_Kowal
According to Etymonline.com, they both ultimately derive from the Latin solari, "to comfort, console, soothe."

Etymonline's search engine is quite sophisticated: when I looked up solace, it generated hits for many other words related to it in terms of either meaning or etymological derivation, or both.

Re: solace and consolation

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:50 pm
by gdwdwrkr
Thank you, Erik.
I just wonder if the Latin goes further back toward something a cat might understand as she snoozes in a patch of sunshine on a cold day.

Re: solace and consolation

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:16 pm
by Erik_Kowal
It seems plausible: according to Wiktionary, the very similar Latin word solaris means

1) Of or pertaining to the sun, solar.
2) (figuratively) sunny

However, mere plausibility is not the same as evidence. I couldn't find any; maybe someone else can.

Re: solace and consolation

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:10 pm
by Phil White
According to the Wiktionary, and in this case, it sounds plausible to me, the Latin verb solor (solari) has the following etymology:
From Proto-Indo-European *sōlh₂- (“mercy, comfort”). Cognate with Ancient Greek ἱλάσκομαι (hiláskomai, “to appease”),[1] Gothic 𐍃𐌴𐌻𐍃 (sēls, “good, kind”), Old English sǣliġ (“happy, prosperous, blessed”) (English silly).

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/solor#Latin
A note on the referencing of Latin verbs: As far as I know, it is largely an English thing to reference Latin verbs by the present infinitive (in this case, "solari"). In most other traditions, I believe that Latin verbs are referenced by the first person present indicative (in this case "solor"). The Latin entries in Wiktionary appear to follow this latter tradition.

Re: solace and consolation

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:35 pm
by Lancer21
And what would be the exact difference in meaning between those words? Sorry if the question sounds a little stupid, but I'm not a native English speaker and still have some issues with that sort of nuanced semi-synonyms.
My gut feeling is that consolation is more material (like if someone hugs you, or if you're given a participation trophy) and that solace is more psychological and moral, like if you found solace after a lifetime of feeling bad due to an error you've done which offended someone you held dear decades ago.