Every Wednesday, I explore how something came to have many word origins in different languages.
Yesterday we looked at a yummy French pastry called a religieuse which got its name from looking like a nun. Today, we’re going to look at where those crazy wimpled ladies got their names.
EN → nun — a member of a religious community of women, esp. a cloistered one, living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. ORIGIN Ecclesiastical Latin nonna, feminine of nonnus [monk].
ES → monja — Religiosa de alguna de las órdenes aprobadas por la Iglesia, que se liga por votos solemnes, y generalmente está sujeta a clausura. [Member of a religious order of the Catholic Church, bound by solemn vows and generally subject to closure.] ORIGIN Feminization of French moine [monk].
FR → religieuse — Celle qui s’est engagé par des vœux à suivre une certaine règle autorisée par l’église. [One who is committed by vows to follow a certain rule authorized by the church.] ORIGIN Unclear, though most likely from the adjective describing anything religious.
I guess French wins for being a root source in a language not its own.
Things I knew about nuns before writing this post included wisdom I’ve gleaned from “The Blues Brothers,” “Call the Midwife,” “Sister Act,” “Nuns on the Run” and reruns of “The Flying Nun” on the UHF channel I watched growing up. None (pun!) of these things are actually useful information, so it appears I’m none (!) the wiser. I should stop now before God smites me for being so amused.