At Word Monster, we love to describe ourselves as monsters (cute, non-scary ones, of course!). We can take a monstrously challenging brief and scare it into submission. Every day we munch on exciting and daunting projects and use creative wordplay to bring them to life. Recently, we’ve been thinking a lot about the words we use and where they come from, and have taken a peek into the history books to learn more about the origins of the word ‘monster’.
The word ‘monster’ entered the English language somewhere between 1000–1200 AD, when William the Conqueror invaded England and brought the French language with him. The word ‘monster’ is derived from the French term ‘monstre’. ‘Monstre’ has roots in the Latin word ‘monstrum’, meaning ‘evil omen’. At the time, animals with strange appearances, i.e. birth defects, were seen as a bad omen. ‘Monstrum’ was derived from the Latin word ‘monere’, which meant ‘to warn, remind, or instruct’. As omens were seen as warning signs for something bad to come, you can see how this all ties in nicely with our current imaginings of what a monster is!1
And if we go even FURTHER back, it is widely theorised that several languages, including Latin, English, Greek, Celtic and Sanskrit, are all derived from the same parent language that linguists now call Proto-Indo-European (P.I.E). This language existed around 4500–2500 BC, originating in a region above the Black Sea. As people migrated from this area across Europe and the rest of the world, P.I.E merged with local languages, which is why there are so many similar sounding words across approx. 445 different languages.1
‘Monere’ is likely to be derived from the P.I.E word ‘men-’, which meant ‘to think’. Although ‘monster’ and ‘to think’ don’t seem connected on the surface, when you dig deeper, you begin to see the link. Many monster stories today are used as a way to express psychological trauma and fear. And fear is often something we create in our own minds!1
At Word Monster, we choose to believe that the link between ‘monster’ and its origin in the verb ‘to think’ fits nicely with how we view ourselves and what we do. We love to use our nimble brains to think our way through challenging healthcare projects, harnessing the power of wordplay each and every day to meet our client’s needs! We don’t scare easily, and we are always ready to take on the next challenge.
So, there you have it: proof that ‘Word’ and ‘Monster’ are the perfect allies. 😊
- Storied. The unexpected origins of the word ‘monster’. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swuoSZXQTac