Thursday, September 11, 2008

Venturing out for Adventure

I’m sorry to have misplaced the name, but someone asked if there was a connection between venture and adventure. Both words have a noun and a verb usage.

The connection between the two is the Latin verb venire, to come. Its past participle is ventus, which is why the -t- shows up in venture and adventure.

We use venture in a somewhat mitigated sense today. We venture forth, we venture a guess, or we seek venture capital. But deep within, the word always contained elements of difficulty, risk, and danger. There was always the possibility of loss or injury. That’s what happened when you wandered out of your own neighborhood.

With adventure, there is always a sense of excitement, challenge, or experiencing the exotic. Lurking beneath, of course, is the same risk or danger conveyed by venire.

Complicating things is the fact that the -vent- sequence also shows up in an unrelated way from words formed from the Latin ventus, wind. Vent, ventilation, ventilator, and ventifact (a stone shaped by wind-driven sand) are examples.

Finally, the Latin venter, belly, helped form words such as ventral (abdominal), ventricose (inflated or distended, as a belly), and ventriloquism (speaking from the belly).

SIDEBAR: the anatomy of the stomach

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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