Friday, July 01, 2011


Ron Jolly brought up the word austerity on last Tuesday’s program. The original Latin and Greek words were sensory words. They meant harsh to the taste, producing an astringent sourness in the mouth. The word austere, the root of austerity, referred to any substance or condition that made the tongue dry and rough.

As time went on, it could be applied to any person or situation that was harsh, stern, or rigorous. That led to the meanings self-discipline, self-restraint, and ascetic. Eventually, it settled into lack of luxury or adornment.

During World War II, it referred to the simplicity in clothing and food necessitated by rationing and a shortage of goods. Recently, we have read of riots in Greece because the government is trying to inaugurate fiscal austerity measures that will cut spending and increase taxes.

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