The Radical Radish

I was thinking about the word radical the otter day for some reason, and I looked it up. Most of us think of it as extreme, right? Well, that’s the second (and third) part of the definition. The first is more interesting:

of or going to the root or origin; fundamental

When I saw that I thought of radish ~and indeed further down you can see that they mention radish as they discuss the word origin and history of radical:

late 14c., in a medieval philosophical sense, from Late Latin radicalis “of or having roots,” from Latin radix (genitive radicis) “root” (see radish ). Meaning “going to the origin, essential” is from 1650s. Radical sign in mathematics is from 1680s.

Regarding math, we have… “pertaining to or forming a root.” Radix is the base of a number system.

Radical… radish… radix. Roots. Very cool.  Is it radical to get back to your roots? One wouldn’t think so, but… 😀



4 responses to “The Radical Radish

  1. Interesting!

    I remember learning about radicals in High School mathematics. When the teacher first mentioned them, I was thinking about all the student radicals of the 1960s. And it was hard to get those images out my mind! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good one. I just read that even the modern meaning that pertains to 60s politics has its “roots” in the early 1800s, used to refer to reformists “changing from the roots,” and later sort of morphed into the modern version with a meaning all its own that leaned more heavily on the idea of change rather than root.
    Imagine someone a couple hundred years from now explaining how the meaning of “I could care less” came about.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Also, radix malorum est cupiditas. Which I like because in the Pardoner’s Tale Chaucer uses that maxim and then tells us about some no-goods who kill each other over money they find nestled in the roots of an oak tree.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome! I googled the phrase just to make sure it meant what I thought, and then got curious about cupiditas –> cupidity –> Cupid. Not such a romantic lil cherub after all, if you think about the root word. Greedy desire. I guess that could be romantic, but seems more obsessive stalkery, y’know?


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