Friday, November 25, 2016


                                                           [Winslow Homer]

William from Charlevoix asked about the word aftermath. Its origin is unexpected, to say the least. The after segment predictably means coming at a later time. The math segment comes from Germanic words that meant to mow. 

Originally, aftermath meant a second crop of grass that springs up after the first has been harvested. It was once accompanied by day’s math, an area of land that can be mown by one person in one day, the synonym lattermath, and undermath, an undergrowth of grass or other vegetation.

Aftermath later developed into a period of time that follows a significant event, and a consequence or effect remaining after something has ceased to be.

The word math, an abbreviation for mathematics, had an entirely different source. It came from a Greek word that meant something learned, knowledge. That root is used in automath, a self-taught person, misomath, a person who hates mathematics, opsimath, a person who begins to learn late in life, philomath, a lover of learning, and polymath, a person who has studied many disciplines.

There is a third math, not connected to the previous two. It comes from a Sanskrit word that means a cell. In South Asia, a math is a monastery meant for celibate Hindu mendicants.

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.


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