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Origins of eight common farm words

Origins of eight common farm words

A brief history lesson on ag terminology

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Most people carry on conversations without thinking about how the English language developed.

Etymology, which is the study of the origins of words, helps people understand how words developed their current meanings.

With that brief introduction, the origins of eight commonly used words in the ag industry follows.

The word tractor dates to the 1850s and 1860s. Tractor comes from the Latin word trahere, which means to drag or pull. Many words in the trahere family are based on tract, which refers to an area of land.

The word farm comes from the Middle English term ferme, which can mean leased or rented land. The origins of the word date to between 1250 and 1300.

The origins of the word crop predate the year 900. In Old English, it meant a sprout, ear of grain or crown of a tree. The word developed from the act of cutting the top off a plant during harvest.

The word harvest can be traced back about the year 950. The word derives from the word kerp, a Porto-Indo-European root word meaning to gather or pluck. Harvest can also be associated with the Old English word haerfest, meaning autumn.

Irrigate dates to the 1600s. The word stems from the Latin word irrigatus, which means “lead water to” and “refresh.”

This word comes from the Latin word combinare, meaning the joining of two or more things together. The piece of farm equipment received its name from its ability to cut, thresh and clean grain.

The word for farmer originated in the late 1300s and early 1400s. In Middle English, the word was fermer and people who spoke French referred to farmers as fermier. The word meant “one who collects taxes.”

Wheat stems (no pun intended) from the Old English word hwaete, meaning “that which is white.”


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