Talk:Essay:Surprising Dates of Origin for Terms

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I hope you don't mind my adding to the essay, but I don't think it can be emphasized enough that even when it was used, "separation of church and state" did NOT imply a limit on religious freedoms of any kind. --BenP 12:56, 2 May 2009 (EDT)

"What did flags hang on for centuries before that?" Flagstaffs. LarsJ 13:59, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

Excellent! "Flagstaff" it must have been.--Andy Schlafly 14:33, 14 June 2009 (EDT)


Maybe the reason the term "atheism" was only popularized after theism is because atheism literally means "without theism"? This shouldn't be construed to mean that atheists didn't exist before the 1800s-- after all, there were even atheists in Ancient Greece, like Epicurus, famous for his "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" observation. STam 13:59, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

I think Epicurus was more of a deist or agnostic than an atheist. He did admit that gods might exist but they had no influence on the world. However, I would guess there were atheists before the 1800s if the word first appeared in 1587. --OscarJ 14:13, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

It's a myth that were atheists in ancient times. There may not even be true atheists today. More typically an "atheist" is simply an anti-Christian.--Andy Schlafly 14:33, 14 June 2009 (EDT)
Well if Atheist means antichristian then there were atheists long ago, like Saul --CJHallock 15:34, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

@ STam and OscarJ: Everything I've read says that the term "atheist" was used purely as an insult until the Enlightenment, and that the first person to positively identify himself as an atheist was the French priest Jean Meslier (1664-1729, for an essay about him, see here).

@ Andy: I agree with you on one point, that since atheism as a philosophical movement began in Enlightenment Europe as a reaction against Christianity, then it would seem to follow that it's anachronistic to apply it backwards to the Greeks. As a general descriptor though, for someone who openly denies the existence of gods, we know full well from Cicero that some of the Ancient Greek philosophers were atheists. Beyond that, I can't figure out what you mean by a "true atheist." There are plenty of self-identifying atheists in the world today, especially in places like Japan where it's not likely an anti-Christian phenomenon. What's your definition of a true atheist, then? JDWpianist 16:41, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

English words

This article appears to give the dates when these words first appeared in English. Isn't it possible that words for these concepts already existed in other languages before that? --OscarJ 14:16, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

Maybe, maybe not. Regardless the surprising dates of origin in English are still ... surprising.--Andy Schlafly 14:33, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

English Words

Fission doesn't just mean nuclear; when a cell splits in two, that's Binary Fission; the word comes from the Latin root meaning 'to split,' the same etymological origin as "fissure". A change should probably be made.

Thanks for your insight, but I don't see any reason to change the entry. You're simply reinforcing what the entry says: "fission" is not a new concept.--Andy Schlafly 15:29, 14 June 2009 (EDT)
Well, the word is fine but maybe you should change the description. Because fission in the 1600s did not mean nuclear fission, as the description implies. AddisonDM 17:46, 14 June 2009 (EDT)


You're right on the money, Andy: the popularization of "hello" had to do with the telephone. "Hello" sounded better over the telephone than "hullo" or "hallo," and early telephone operators were encouraged to use it as a salutation. --Benp 16:38, 14 June 2009 (EDT)


Almost forgot what I came to the article for in the first place! Would the origin of "Biblical" (1780-1790, according to Random House) qualify for this list? It certainly surprised me! --Benp 16:40, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

Yes. Wow, that is surprising! Please add it. Thanks and Godspeed.--Andy Schlafly 17:04, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

Bill of rights

Actually, Hamilton used this term in Federalist no. 84 (1788): "The most considerable of the remaining objections is that the plan of the convention contains no bill of rights." And this sentence implies that the term was already in use in debate about the Constitution. ChrisFV 14:34, 4 November 2009 (EST)

"Bill of rights" is also used as a name for the act of the English Parliament of 1689 "Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown"; though I haven't been able to determine at what point in time it began to be referred to by this term. (It did not officially have this title until the Short Titles Act of 1896.) ChrisFV 14:45, 4 November 2009 (EST)


Welfare is an interesting word to look at because of the change in meaning over time. While 'welfare' in the sense of 'the good of a person or group' is a very old word, dating back to the 1200's or earlier, 'welfare' in the sense of 'receiving financial aid from the government' appears to be a 20th century change, dating back to 1904 or thereabouts. Thus, those who cite "promote the general welfare" in the Constitution as evidence for how massive government social programs are "Constitutional" are attempting to apply a definition that didn't put in an appearance until over a century after those words were penned. Another example of liberal influence creeping into language over time, perhaps? --Benp 13:40, 2 September 2012 (EDT)

Your comment is very insightful, something worth repeating. In fact, I'll work it into my upcoming American Government & Politics course.--Andy Schlafly 15:25, 2 September 2012 (EDT)