The Origin of the Phrase ‘Engineering’

So what’s the origin of the phrase engineering? Languages are sometimes imprecise in successfully speaking concepts and the origins of our trendy phrases will be very advanced certainly.

To some, the derivation of phrases is lower than attention-grabbing however we hope you will keep on with us as we discover the historical past of the particular residing phrases engineer and engineering.

Each these phrases are intimately linked and have existed since historical occasions. Afterall, you may’t bake a cake with no baker proper? However after all, that’s how language works. You could have a factor made by a maker. Our species has been busily considering and making instruments for a lot of, many, millennia. From stone instruments to extra superior issues like wedges, levers, wheels, and pulleys to trendy computer systems, engineering has all the time been with us. However, the place does this meeting of letters and sounds come from? Let’s have a look.

Fashionable definitions

It’d assist to set out our present understanding, as outlined by our dictionaries, so we’re all studying from the identical “hymn sheet” as they are saying. This may assist us perceive the origin of the phrase engineering.

An engineer, as outlined by the Oxford English Dictionary (Misgivings of outsourcing apart, we Brits use Oxford English not Merriam-Webster for apparent causes):-

– Somebody who designs builds or maintains engines, machines, or buildings;
– An individual certified in a department of engineering, particularly as an expert;
– A chap or chapess (OK, we have amended this one a bit) who controls an engine, particularly on an plane or ship

Okay, straightforward thus far proper?

What about engineering?

– The department of science and expertise involved with the design, constructing, and use of engines, machines, and buildings;
– A subject of examine or exercise involved with modification or growth in a selected space;
– The motion of working artfully to convey one thing about.

Okay obtained it? Good.

The primary recorded engineer

Hey, why not ask? Certainly it is associated to understanding the origin of the phrase engineering? Proper? No matter we have requested the query now. In keeping with Encyclopedia Britannica, the primary recorded “engineer” was Imhotep. He occurred to be the builder of the Step Pyramid at Ṣaqqārah, Egypt.

That is thought to have been erected round 2550 BC. After all, that’s recorded historical past however we all know from archeological proof that people have been making/constructing stuff, fires, buildings and all kinds of issues for a really very long time.

The significance of Imhotep is that he’s the primary “recorded” engineer in case you like.

Latin Root

There are an infinite quantity of phrases in trendy European languages that share a standard ancestor. They’re all, on the core, Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

It’s generally agreed that that time period engineer and by extension engineering comes from the root-word, gene. Gene, as you will intuitively perceive means to create, invent or convey forth.

Why Engineers are Becoming Increasingly Important

Wait, it will get extra sophisticated! There isn’t any “direct” hyperlink between engineer/engineering per se and gene. We have to anticipate a while earlier than we’ve the event of Latin.

Our noun, in English, “engine” is immediately derived from Ingenium or Ingeniare which suggests a tool or machine within the former, or contrive or devise within the latter. Ingenium is an attention-grabbing phrase in and of itself. It grew to become widespread in early English to imply “cleverness” or siege engines of any form. This may very well be Scorpions and traditional Ballistae to the much more highly effective Mangonel.

It was additionally utilized by the Roman Empire similarly however would extra generally be known as Ballistae or their particular names. Man, the Roman’s have been so cool, if not extremely militaristic.

Good, we’re getting someplace, aren’t we?

French affect

In Center English, there’s a verb “to engine” which has an analogous which means to “engender” or to provide, manufacture or convey into being. It seems that the phrase engineer comes from about this era and particularly from Center French.

It appears to have broad utilization and is nearly actually linked to “engender” which, like Center English, has an analogous which means. We all know that in not less than the 14th Century the time period engineer had come to be generally used to consult with both:-

– A builder of siege weapons

– A maker of units or;

 – A crafty artificer

In keeping with On-line Etymology Dictionary the noun engineer and by extension the origin of the phrase engineering has a robust connection to the twelfth and 14th Centuries.

“mid-14c., enginour, “constructor of navy engines,” from Outdated French engigneor “engineer, architect, maker of war-engines; schemer” (12c.), from Late Latin ingeniare (see engine); basic sense of “inventor, designer” is recorded from early 15c.; civil sense, in reference to public works, is recorded from c. 1600 however not the widespread which means of the phrase till 19c (therefore lingering distinction as civil engineer). That means “locomotive driver” is first attested 1832, American English. A “maker of engines” in historical Greece was a mekhanopoios.”

What concerning the -eer and -ing bit?

The addition of the -eer to engine, comes from a mix of Anglo-French cross-pollination. Do not forget that throughout 1066 onwards Britannia had been conquered by the Normans. Though technically based mostly in modern-day France, they have been in actual fact initially Viking settlers.

That apart, they spoke an early type of French. Because of this, it shouldn’t be shocking that our trendy use of those phrases is closely influenced by our historical past. -ing as used for gerunds and current participles is attention-grabbing in itself.

As you may anticipate, it comes from Center English which in flip comes from previous Nordic -ing or -ung. Now, the place have been Norman’s initially from? Hmm.

This, in flip, comes from Proto-Germanic types like -inga, -unga, -ingo or ungō. After all, additionally it is a bit extra advanced than that the additional again you go. Really fascinating.

Victorians have their say

It wasn’t till the 18th Century that the time period engine got here for use for issues we’d instinctively consider when listening to the phrase. From then on it will extra generally be used to consult with one thing that converts an power supply or gas into movement or motion. Engineer, alternatively, nonetheless retained its extra basic and broad which means.

The ultimate phrase

Okay, we have digressed a bit bit however we hope you’ve got obtained the gist. In abstract, and with out a lot of a shock, the origin of the phrase engineering and engineer are a product of the basis phrases from historical languages. The maelstrom of European historical past has led to cross-fertilization of languages from invaders and lengthy lasting empires and energy vacuum energy struggles to a phrase that we use with out actually excited about. The identical story will be stated for just about all phrases in our lexicon. So subsequent time you say something, take into consideration the place that phrase has come from.


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