Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Word Tidbits: An Etymological Quandary

I find myself in a quandary today, as I intended to write about the origins of that word but have been unable to identify any solid idea of them. Most dictionaries list the origin as “unknown”. I quite like some of the synonyms, however. I may be on the horns of a dilemma, in a state of perplexity, or simply in a predicament.

The only tentative etymology I could find for quandary was in a book titled Notes on English Etymology by Walter William Skeat. This entry discussed outlines an interesting but ultimately doubtful theory. Most sources that hazard a guess at all list the word as dating from the late 1500s. Some of them indicate that the word is rooted in the Latin quando, meaning when, but no one seems certain how it came to be used.

I apologize for such a scanty entry, but the word fits so nicely with its meaning and is part of such an evocative set of terms that I still wanted to write about it. Please share any other words or phrases you use for uncertain or untenable situations.




What a great resource!