Thursday, April 21, 2016
Phil from Traverse City asked about the connection between smart (intelligent), and something that smarts (hurts). Oddly enough, both meanings attach to the same word.
Tracing the meaning through the centures by using the Oxford English Dictionary makes things clear.
· In 1225, smart meant severe and intense pain. Feel the smart! could have been the cliché du jour.
· By 1300, pain had been stripped out, and the focus was now intensity. Smart referred to a natural force or process that was strong, vigorous, bracing, and keen.
· Roughly a century later, smart meant a person who was quick in action or response; such a person was lively, active, and prompt.
· By 1571, smart meant the now familiar clever, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
· In 1644, the focus was on something distinct, sharp, and clearly outlined.
· Twenty years later, there was a shift to something delivered quickly and sharply, as a blow.
· Now we have smart mobs who are assembled through the use of smart phones and other mobile devices and who may reach their destination in smart cars.
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