The Etymology Of Your Daily News

2 min read

There are more ways than ever to get your daily dose of news, trending stories, and information. Instead of subscribing to a paper delivery, you might listen to a morning news podcast. Or instead of listening to a radio program, maybe you watch a cable TV show. You probably follow media organizations on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your breaking news updates. While the battle to save print media is ongoing, we want to take a look at the etymology of some newsy lingo.

No Fake News Here

"Newspaper" is a compound word, made up of the words "news" and "paper." The word appeared in print as early as the 1660s, although the concept of a newspaper is even older.

As far as the word "news" itself, there have been a few debunked theories over the years, including news as an acronym for "North-East-West-South" or "Notable Events, Sports, and Weather."

The real news: in 14th century Middle English "news" was the plural version of something new. This is one of the few times that an adjective turned into a noun by becoming plural. And why make it plural at all? One theory points to the French word for new (nouveau) and its plural feminine form (nouvelles) catching on in English. Fast forward a couple of centuries and "news" about new things was printed on paper, hence the name coined for one of our earliest sources of journalism.

What About Magazines?

Magazines go by many names – digests, periodicals, journals, ’zines, rags – but the name is derived from the Arabic makhazin, which is the plural for storehouse. The Italians transformed it into magazzino, and the French changed that to magasin, and like so many other words, English adopted its own variation by the late 16th century. The original meaning of "magazine" was very much in line with the Arabic definition of a storage space, primarily for military munitions.

"Magazine" was eventually applied to publications that provided a storehouse of information (instead of ammunition) to appeal to a specific group of people – not unlike the topical magazines of today, from Vogue for fashion to Wired for techies.

All About Blogs

Jump ahead a few centuries to 1998 and you’ve got the blog – AKA the people’s publishing platform. "Blog" is a shortened version of the term "weblog." It’s another compound word – web and log – coined to describe a regular record of things online.

However, the word "blog" did exist before its current and most widely understood definition. "Blogg" was previously used to describe a hypothetical person in the 1960s in the U.K. (Joe Bloggs is synonymous with Joe Blow), and in the 19th century, blog was used to describe servant boys. Of course, these definitions have largely been forgotten, all in favor of self-published media to capture our attention with newsworthy content.

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