April 9, 2013

Case File #013.04.09: MONETARY

The ancient Romans didn't exactly think of the goddess Juno—wife of their chief god, Jupiter, and the patron goddess of the Roman Empire—as an advocate of economics or a champion of the wealthy, but they did operate a mint out of her primary temple nonetheless. And because of this connection to the manufacturing of currency, one of Juno's popular epithets, Moneta, was also the Latin term for “coin” or “mint” and the root of the Late Latin adjective monetarius, meaning “of the mint” or “relating to money.” It is no surprise, then, that the English word monetary, though it did not come into use until the early nineteenth century, is a direct descendant of the Latin monetarius. Of course, the related English words money and mint also have a kinship with the epithet of the Roman goddess, and while they actually came to the language earlier than monetary, they arrived via more circuitous routes: money evolved from the Middle English moneye, an Anglicized version of the Middle French word moneie that itself evolved from the Latin moneta, and mint grew out of the Old English mynet, which came from the Latin by way of the Old Saxon word munita.

©2013 Michael R. Gates

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