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Friday, July 27, 2012


In case you hadn't heard, the Olympic Games open today. Anyone looking at the Olympics realizes that sport is a very serious business indeed, but “sport” was originally the equivalent of “fun”, and didn't necessarily involve physical exertion. It was a shortened form of “disport” (a pastime), from the Latin dis (away) and portare (carry), the idea being that amusement carried one away from serious or sad occupations, in much the same way that a “diversion” is literally something that “turns you away” from other matters.

1 comment:

  1. "Is there going to be any sport today ?" (approx. quote) asks someone from Mr. Darcy's and Mr. Bingley's entourage, in the 1995 BBC series "Pride and Prejudice", referring to some bird hunting.

    Indeed, I got an idea that, historically, "sport" was a more general term. In fact, even in countries which picked up the modern term only, people would still colloquially (and ironically) call "sport" all sorts of dubious/questionable activities, susceptible of bringing some sort of benefits/satisfactions to their "practitioners".


About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.