Weird

When I worked as a teacher I was delighted to talk about words. I am very keen on words, their spelling, their origin and their historical development. I suppose it is the way linguists try to understand life (or a part of it).

Although all words are interesting, there are some of them that attract my attention, I don’t know why. This is the case of ‘weird’.

“Weird” derives from the Old English noun wyrd, meaning “fate, destiny”, literally “that which comes”. This one from Proto-Germanic *wurthis, from Old Saxon wurd, Old High German wurt, Old Norse urðr, from Proto-Indo-European *wert- (to turn, wind).

By the 8th century, the plural wyrde begun to appear in texts as a gloss for “Parcae”, the Latin name for the Fates (the three goddesses who controlled human destiny), in Germanic mithology  “the three fates of Norns”. In the 15th and 16th centuries Scots authors employed “werd” or “weird” in the phrase “weird sisters” to refer to the Fates. William Shakespeare adopted this usage in Macbeth, in which the “weird sisters” are depicted as three witches. Subsequent adjectival use of “weird” grew out of a reinterpretation of the “weird” used by Shakespeare, that led to the meaning “odd-looking, uncanny”. “Eery” is also a synonym today.

So “weird” is an adjective meaning:

1.  Having supernatural or preternatural power.

2. Having an unusual or strange character or behaviour.

(Comparative: weirder, and superlative: weirdest; regular forms).

As a noun it means:

1. (Archaic except in Scots) fate or destiny.

2. (Archaic in plural) the Fates.

As a verb it means:

1. To make someone feel strange.

Some examples of “weird” in complete sentences:

     His weird behaviour had cooled her passion.

     The altered landscape looks unnatural and weird.

The phonetic transcription for the word “weird” is: /wɪərd/

 I hope you like this word as much as I do.

(NOTES:  Old English: the English language as written and spoken c.45o – c.1100; Proto-Germanic: hypothetical prehistoric ancestor of all Germanic languages, including English); Old Saxon: the earliest written form of Low German, spoken c.700 – c.1100; Old High German: German language as written and spoken c.100 – c. 1500 C.E.; Old Norse:  the Norwegian language as written and spoken c.100 – c1500 C.E.; Proto-Indo-European: the hypothetical reconstructed ancestral language of the Indo-European family (about 5,590 years ago).

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