Weekly Wednesday Word:Bath

Welcome to the second installment of weekly Wednesday word! Ever wonder where certain words come from? Well I do, quite often (probably too often). As a writer I find a deeper knowledge of linguistics and etymology to be not only useful but downright enriching.

This weeks word is Bath.

So the bath is kind of out of style, I mean you know, bathing in your own filth, ew (Or so I’ve heard), but what’s more relaxing than a nice steaming hot bath, maybe add some bubbles, some fragrance, you’re good to go.

The original word according to http://www.etymonline.com/index.php comes from the Proto-Germanic ‘batham’, which is possibly a combo of ‘bhe’ a proto-indo-european word that means ‘to warm’ and a Germanic suffix ‘thuz’ (which can be found in a lot of words Pro Tip: words that end with ‘th’ are usually linked back to this, like Birth and Death), meaning ‘act, process, condition.’  This later ended up as the old English word ‘bæð’, which means ‘immersing in water or mud’. (this is actually my simplified explanation, this word shows up all over the place in the Germanic language family)

In case you didn’t understand any of that, or got lost, it comes from a Germanic tongue, something that you will find a lot of in English. That word became old English, aka a mangled looking form of the word we now know. Eventually it became the word we now know, and mostly equate with bathing in water (not mud).

Rev. Walter W. Skeat (an Etymological Dictionary of the English Language) notes specifically that the word was used to mainly indicate warming, rather than cleaning oneself.

Fun Facts:

The city Bath in England is  so named because of its hotsprings.

Baths also have a long presidential history. You’ve probably heard that Taft our 27th president got stuck in his, but did you know that Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers, preferred to take ‘air baths’, which basically meant he stood around stark naked (or sat). Try getting that image out of your head!

Check out this Wikipedia page  if you’d like, for more details on the history of bathing in both ancient and modern cultures.


Question: Bath or shower?


Until next week!




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