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Use this forum to suggest Good Words for Professor Beard.

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Postby duggles » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:51 am

I woke up this morning with this word (conversation) in my head - wondering how it came to mean what it does these days, so I came to the Dr. GoodWord to see if it had been discussed and apparently it has not. I thought I'd offer it up as a candidate. I looked it up on one of my favorite etymology sites (http://www.etymonline.com) and found:
mid-14c., "living together, having dealings with others," also "manner of conducting oneself in the world;" from O.Fr. conversation, from L. conversationem (nom. conversatio) "act of living with," from conversat-, pp. stem of conversari "to live with, keep company with," lit. "turn about with," from L. com- "with" (see com-) + vertare, frequentative of vertere (see versus). Specific sense of "talk" is 1570s. Used as a synonym for "sexual intercourse" from at least 1511, hence criminal conversation, legal term for adultery from late 18c. Related: Conversationalist; conversationist.

My question is "how did it come to mean 'talk' in the 1570s?"
Life is short, but it's wide!
-- Chuck Pyle --
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:06 am

Went through Conway last week, duggles. Conversation was still being used to mean manner of life in King James Version New Testament in 1611. And doesn't "vert..." go back to "turn"? Along with "con" it should somehow include the idea of turning with something...
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New Testament reference...

Postby duggles » Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:42 am

interesting... (about the New Testament reference as well as your coming through Conway.... :D )
I looked at an online bible concordance for all instances of "Conversation" and found that in about half the occurrences, it seemed to mean specifically dialogue, but in the other half, either meaning could be substituted without destroying the meaning of the phrase...
Life is short, but it's wide!
-- Chuck Pyle --
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