Monday, April 15, 2013

Make a science from Karen T

Dear Word Spy,

I don't know if you do phrases, but I hope so.  I am interested in when people first began to use the phrase "to make a science of [something]."  I am guessing it would be sometime from the late 18th century forward, but I don't really know.
For example:  He made a science of meat cutting.  Or:  He made a science of the law.

Neither meat cutting nor law are actual sciences.
Anyway, it tickled my bump of curiosity.

Thank you for your time and help.  Karen T

Dear Karen,

Thank you for this very interesting question. I don't think I can answer it (sadly!) but it raises such interesting thoughts. The word "science" itself is interesting. It comes to us in English from the Latin word "scientia" meaning "knowledge" - the verb "scio" simply meant "I know." So the sense in which we use the word science today as a very specific way of acquiring knowledge, ie through the scientific method, is fairly modern - well probably from around as you say the 18th century. (Sort of modern!) Before that science just meant knowing something. 

You have tickled my bump of curiosity too - more word spying is needed ....

yours, scientifically,

The Word Spy

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