Word origin and history for success

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Word origin and history for success

Post by Archived Topic » Thu Mar 28, 1996 12:00 am

Can you tell me the origin and history for the word success?
Submitted by Ben Lee (Gautier - U.S.A.)
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Word origin and history for success

Post by Jonathon Green » Fri Mar 29, 1996 8:00 am

Success





Success is the noun form of the verb to "succeed", which comes from the Latin succedere: to go under, go up, come close after, go near.





The initial uses - citations begin appearing around 1535 - focussed on the "what comes next / result" aspect of the word; the idea that that result was positive, i.e. "successful" in the modern sense, was irrelevant - an outcome could be good or bad, it was still "a success". The modern sense, that things turned out well, came very soon afterwards, in the late 1540s, but was initially accompanied by a qualifying "good" (to distinguish it from the "ill success" which implied failure). Unqualified "success" begins appearing in the 1580s and is today's dominant form, appearing both by itself and in such combinations as "success rate", "success ethic" and perhaps most common of all, "success story". Other definitions, which have long since been abandoned, were the 16th century use as meaning an event and the 17th century one as meaning the outcome of a scientific experiment or of a course of medicine.





At the same time as these win/lose aspects of success were moving into everyday speech, the chronological aspect of the word was by no means ignored. The idea of a "success(ion)" of time emerges around 1545, although it did not survive the 17th century. The late 16th/17th centuries also saw a particular use: the "success(ion)" of a royal or ruling family.





For your non-lexical amusment, I offer a couple of observations:





"We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like." Jean Cocteau





"Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure." Joseph Heller, in Playboy magazine, 1975
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