When a word jumps out at you, gets your attention, repeats, or otherwise shows up in your life, further consideration may be worthwhile. Hidden roots in the origin of the word can bring something unexpected to your attention, to a new place in current thinking and understanding. This is especially helpful if you’re stuck with a perspective that’s too narrow and not serving a situation.
I’ve shortened the quote below of a process for looking into the root of a word, suggested by Russell Lockhart. He illustrates the process through his investigation of the word “consider:”
The first step is to find the word in the dictionary. Here is what you will find for “consider:”
con?sid?er (k?n-sid’?r) v. -ered, -er?ing, -ers—tr.
1. To think carefully about.
2. To think or deem to be, regard as. See Usage Note at as1.
3. To form an opinion about; judge: considers waste to be criminal.
4. To take into account; bear in mind.
5. To show consideration for; considered the feelings of others.
6. To esteem; regard.
7. To look at thoughtfully. — intr. To think carefully; reflect.
[ME consideren < OFr. < Lat. considerare : com-, com + s?dus, s?der-, star.]
Every word in every language was born at some point in time and somewhere in the world. And every word that has been born has a history, a story to tell. This birth and story of a word is referred to generally as a word’s etymology. You will recognize the “-logy” of this word, which means “speech.” The component “etym-, refers to “truth.” So, etymology literally means “truth speaking.” Notice that the dictionary “brackets” the etymology. It’s the last entry.
Current meaning and definition are too often only the shell of a word. Words take on life, induce images, excite the imagination, begin to weave textures with one another, and tell whole stories, if we but scratch the surface of the word.
The “sider” part of this word is the root-word for star—the same etymon we see in such words as sidereal, meaning “in reference to star time,” and siderite, the iron from meteorites—that is, “what falls to earth from the stars.” In earlier times, a sidus was one who observed the stars. That required care and time—one could not hurry the heavens. And in watching the stars in this slow and attentive way, the psyche was stirred, began to move, and projected itself into the starry lights. In such careful looking, the psyche began to see itself, and man perceived the relationship between himself and the stars. In such con-sideration, being with the stars, the psyche gave birth to astrology.
In these days of instant, this sense of “consider” has been lost. So, paying attention to the word’s birth and its developmental history is one effective way of slowing down. And by slowing down, we become psychically prepared to experience the “shock” of what is revealed, that what is hidden in the birth and history of “consider” is the image of “star.”