Summary: Today's blog title is a bit of a misnomer. The fact is, there are many words featured in this week's WOW segment—and they all surround the word birth and its origins (fittingly).
Happy birthday to me! Today I turn 30-something (*ahem*). And as the rest of the world concentrates on what's really important—a vision of peace as personified in our collective memory by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—I thought I'd get a little narcissistic. (And, yes, even my MLK link is self-absorbed: My sister is a teacher at the very impressive MLK Dream Montessori School.) So, my blog is about all things birth-related.
In addition to recognizing the late Dr. King's birthday, today I personally have recognized: my aunt's birthday; my great uncle's birthday (hey, people like to give birth on this date in my family); the birthdays of a couple of other friends (also today); and the upcoming or recently-past birthdays of several other friends, family members and even my in-laws. I know a lot of January birthdays! And *psssst!* today is also the First Lady's birthday, in case you hadn't heard. Happy birthday to all of us!
So, now that we've cut the cake and blown out the candles (hopefully, not in that order), let's get down to our WOW word study.
BIRTH (BERTH) - as a verb, it's the action of bringing someone or something to life—as in, "In her career, the midwife was responsible for helping to birth more than a hundred healthy babies." As a noun, it's the moment/place when that act occurs: "1776 marked the birth of a nation." More esoterically, it's the state resulting from being born at a particular time and place, or having to do with one's lineage, i.e., "He was a Southerner by birth," and "His was not a noble birth." Finally, as an adjective, it describes anything having to do with the forms of birth already mentioned, like "the clinic's best birthing room" and "the prevention of birth defects." Birthday is a compound word—but I've blogged about that before.
The word birth entered the English language in the mid-13th century, deriving from the Old Norse, byrth, which mutated through many forms from an ancient Indo-European word, bhrto, meaning to bear. Interestingly, birth replaced the Old English word gebyrd, which derived from German and had a broader definition, expanding to offspring, descent, race, nature and even fate. In the 1600s, another compound word, birthnight, existed to specify the night of someone's birth.
Here are a couple of synonyms—with histories that are just as interesting—for you to look up on your own (now that we've given birth to your curiosity, you may as well continue to grow): nativity, geniture, nascency, natality, genesis ... Are you seeing a pattern already?
I'd like to give you some final food for thought: Why do we recognize Dr. King's birthday instead of holding a day of memorial for his tragic passing? Perhaps it's because we want to focus on positivity, just like he did with his message of hope. Here's to the birth of a better tomorrow today ...
© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2010