RE: How to find the meaning of words (was: A question about tombs)

From: Bill Ross (
Date: Tue Apr 06 1999 - 14:18:48 EDT

Since I offered the post extracting flavor (not "meaning") from the
*origins* of the two words for tomb, I think I'll throw in a couple more

* your "steps to understanding" below *completely excludes* etymology, which
I consider a huge error;

* your methodology is somewhat impractical because one has to assume too
much about our understanding (*interpretation*) of the *intended meaning* of
various authors, which in the end can have words meaning just about
anything! For example, someone on Corpus Paul made the absurd affirmation
the "dying for another" was used by an author previous to Paul to mean some
kind of social restoration or some other strained connotation, and therefore
Paul's words have that "meaning." Donkey-dust. Words themselves have
meaning, much or most of which is conveyed in their etymology and historic

* it is *very* edifying to read the introduction to English dictionaries and
to see the *variety* of approaches that they take to arrive at the ordinal
value they assign to the various definitions of a word. Some work from most
common current usage, others from major usage historically, others by
etymologic evolution, others from "psychological association." A resourceful
person would do well to learn all of these tools (and consult more than one

* as to the "tomb" words, I don't believe that I made more of the origin of
the two "tomb" words than I ought to have. The origins are there, and to
glean a richness from them is "found money."

Bill Ross

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