Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hospitals and hospitality from Layla

Dear Word Spy,

Why do people say "thank you for your hospitality" when they come and stay? I mean, our house is definitely not a hospital.

yours sincerely, Layla

Dear Layla,

This is one of those questions that can be answered by going back to the beginnings of where the words came from. (This is called etymology by the way.)

Both "hospital" and "hospitality" started off with the same Latin word, "hospes" which means "guest." Lots of words in English come from Latin, which is the language the ancient Romans used to speak.

Anyway, "hospitality" sort of means having guests over - so you can see the connection there. But
what about hospitals? Well the first "hospitals" were kinds of guest-houses, where you went if you needed looking after. As hundreds of years passed (that's how long it takes to make a word!) it started to mean the place we go to if we're not feeling well or are suddenly about to have a baby or something like that.

Just as long as your guests realised that the guest bedroom isn't an operating theatre!!!

happy healthy wishes from The Word Spy

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