Printable Version
Pronunciation: -dhêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Other.

Notes: Do you cringe when you hear, "a whole nother" rather than "a whole other?" Well, learn to enjoy cringing because this reanalysis of the phrase "an other" has been around for more than 700 years. Reanalysis occurs when we misdraw the line between two words, as when we mistake an ice man for a nice man or nitrate for night rate. Sometimes the misanalysis sticks. Old French naperon entered English as a naperon but ended up an apron. The diminutive of this word, a napkin "small apron" remained true to its origins.

In Play: This word has been around since the beginning of the 14th century and has been used by some well known writers such as John Wyclif. Wyclif wrote in 1380: "A noþer symple frere þat nys not so gret flaterere" (A nother simple friar that isn't not so great [a] flatterer.) The history of William Wallace, the central figure in the Mel Gibson movie Braveheart , written around 1470 by the mysterious Henry the Minstrel. contains the line, "Thocht he wes best, no nothir lak we nocht" (Though he was best, no nother lack we nought.) So, we must learn to appreciate reanalysis a whole nother way, since it is a normal speech error to which the best of us fall prey.

Word History: We inherited other from Old English oðer from Proto-Indo-European an-ter- "other". This root also emerged in Dutch and German as ander "other", related to Gothic anþar. The same word evolved to Sanskrit antara-s, anyatara-s "other" from ana, anya "that". In the Balto-Slavic languages it came to mean "second," for instance, Lithuanian antras, Latvian otrs (which also means "another"), Russian vtoroi "second". Russian utro "morning" and Polish and Serbian jutro "tomorrow" come from the same PIE root. The sense here is from "the second (day), the other (day)".

Dr. Goodword,

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