I’ve got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications. I thought I’d share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you – Word Origins from Left Field – that’s right, the WOLF. Er… ignore the fact that the “from” doesn’t fit.
It’s flu season. Did you get your shot? I’m taking my chances and braving the wild this year. It’s time to avoid people and hide behind your computer – in other words – writers, carry on.
In that vein your word origin of today is quarantine, which is a period of time during which a vehicle, person, or material suspected of carrying a contagious disease is detained at a port of entry under enforced isolation.
It comes from the French quarante, for forty and the suffix -aine which in French is the English equivalent of -ish. Ships thought to be carrying contagion were kept in port for forty(ish) days. Sailors were not allowed to debark, cargo was not unloaded until everyone had made it through the quarantine period free from whatever disease was suspected.
Or conversely, until every last one of them was dead.