Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Etymology Today from M-W: nescience \NEH-shee-unss or NEE-shee-unss\
lack of knowledge or awareness : ignorance

Eighteenth-century British poet, essayist, and lexicographer Samuel Johnson once said, "There is nothing so minute or inconsiderable that I would not rather know it than not know it." He undoubtedly knew a thing or two about the history of the word "nescience," which evolved from a combination of the Latin prefix "ne-," meaning "not," and "scire," a verb meaning "to know." And he probably knew that "scire" is also an ancestor of "science," a word whose original meaning in English was "knowledge."

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