7 More Words You Didn’t Know Had Christian Origins

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Previously, we brought you “7 Words You Didn’t Know Had Christian Origins.”

But, of course, Christians have contributed far more than just seven words to our language!

So here are seven more words you didn’t know had Christian origins.

1) Goodbye

“Goodbye” (also “goodby,” “good bye,” or “good-bye”), comes from the older English term “godbwye,” which is a contraction of “God be with ye.” (“God be with ye” = “godbwye”)

The French (adieu) and Spanish (adios) words for parting ways are also related to commending the person to God.

h/t Rich

2) Unicorn

We can thank the grumpy ‘ole St. Jerome for this one.

In his 4th century translation of the Bible into Latin (known as the Vulgate), he translated the Greek word μονόκερως (monoceros), which literally means “one horn,” into Latin as the noun unicornus, based off the adjective unicornis, which means “having one horn.” The Greek term refers to the same animal as the Hebrew רֶאֵם (re’em), which refers to a wild ox (not a one-horned horse).

When the translators of the King James Version came across the Hebrew word רֶאֵם (re’em), they followed St. Jerome’s literal translation of the Greek word, and used the English word “unicorn.” (E.g., see Numbers 23:22, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9–12, et al.) In the American Standard Version, “unicorn” was changed to “wild ox.”

3) Christen

Maybe this one is a bit too obvious?

“Christen” comes from the old English term “cristnian,” which means “to baptize,” or literally “to make Christian.” Today, the term can refer to the ceremonial launching of a new ship, or simply using something for the first time.

4) Infidel

This word is mostly associated with Islam today, but it was first a common word used by Christians.

It comes from the Latin word infidelis, meaning “unbelieving,” and meant “non-Christian,” sometimes more specifically referring to non-Christians seen as enemies of Christianity, usually Muslims (ironically enough!).

5) Charity

A “charity” is an organization that serves the community in some way, usually the poor. This is because these projects were originally expressions of Christian love, or charity.

“Charity” in the sense of “love” comes from the Latin term caritas, which St. Jerome used (most of the time) to translate the Greek word agape in his 4th century translation of the Bible into Latin, the Vulgate.

6) Limbo

To say that something is in a state of “limbo” means that it’s no longer making progress, is being neglected, or is in an undefined state.

This comes from the Latin term limbus meaning “edge” or “border,” which for centuries was used to refer to two regions on the outskirts, or “edge,” of hell. E.g., the limbus patrum, or the “Limbo of the Patriarchs,” is the place where holy souls prior to the coming of Christ waited after death until Christ opened heaven.

7) Fundamentalist

Being a fundamentalist is a decidedly bad thing today, although its precise meaning is unclear (too conservative? too literal? lacking nuance? close minded?).

But the term was originally coined by American Protestants in the early 20th century as a good thing, to denote the fact that they saw themselves as going back to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, in opposition to liberal Protestants who were “demythologizing” the faith.

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