February 03, 2017
- savage (adjective)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : not tamed2 : very cruel and unrestrained3 : not cultivated : wild4 : not civilized
- How do you use it?
- "‘Fool,' said the Witch with a savage smile that was almost a snarl, ‘do you really think your master can rob me of my rights by mere force?'" (C. S. Lewis, _The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe_)
- Are you a word wiz?
Take a "wild" guess at today's quiz. Which one of these root words do you think is the source of the adjective "savage"?In ancient times, woods, forests, and other wild areas were frightening to people who lived in towns and cities, because they thought dangerous animals and humans dwelled in such places. The Latin word for "woods" or "forest" was "silva," and from this came the adjective "silvaticus," meaning "of the woods" or "wild." A later Latin spelling, "salvaticus," appeared in medieval French as "savage," meaning "wild" or "untamed." Eventually, the word took on other meanings that city people associated with forests: "cruel, brutal, fierce." All these meanings were carried over into English when the word was borrowed as "savage."