Etymology
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compassion (n.)
Origin and meaning of compassion

"feeling of sorrow or deep tenderness for one who is suffering or experiencing misfortune," mid-14c., compassioun, literally "a suffering with another," from Old French compassion "sympathy, pity" (12c.), from Late Latin compassionem (nominative compassio) "sympathy," noun of state from past participle stem of compati "to feel pity," from com "with, together" (see com-) + pati "to suffer" (see passion).

Latin compassio is an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia (see sympathy). Sometimes in Middle English it meant a literal sharing of affliction or suffering with another. An Old English loan-translation of compassion was efenðrowung.

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comfort (n.)

c. 1200, "feeling of relief in affliction or sorrow; solace, consolation" (as still in take comfort); also "source of alleviation or relief;" from Old French confort "consolation, solace; pleasure, enjoyment," from conforter "to solace; to help, strengthen" (see comfort (v.)). An Old English word in the same sense was frofor. Meaning "state of enjoyment resulting from satisfaction of bodily wants and freedom from anxiety" is from mid-13c. Also in Middle English "strength, support, encouragement" (late 14c.). Comforts (as opposed to necessities and luxuries) is from 1650s. Comfort food "food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value but typically is of dubious nutritional value" is by 1987.

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hunger (n.)

Old English hunger, hungor "unease or pain caused by lack of food, debility from lack of food, craving appetite," also "famine, scarcity of food in a place," from Proto-Germanic *hungraz (source also of Old Frisian hunger, Old Saxon hungar, Old High German hungar, Old Norse hungr, German hunger, Dutch honger, Gothic huhrus), probably from PIE root *kenk- (2) "to suffer hunger or thirst" (source also of Sanskrit kakate "to thirst;" Lithuanian kanka "pain, ache; torment, affliction;" Greek kagkanos "dry," polykagkes "drying"). From c. 1200 as "a strong or eager desire" (originally spiritual). Hunger strike attested from 1885; earliest references are to prisoners in Russia.

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labor (v.)
late 14c., "perform manual or physical work; work hard; keep busy; take pains, strive, endeavor" (also "copulate"), from Old French laborer "to work, toil; struggle, have difficulty; be busy; plow land," from Latin laborare "to work, endeavor, take pains, exert oneself; produce by toil; suffer, be afflicted; be in distress or difficulty," from labor "toil, work, exertion" (see labor (n.)).

The verb in modern French, Spanish, and Portuguese means "to plow;" the wider sense being taken by the equivalent of English travail. Sense of "endure pain, suffer" is early 15c., especially in phrase labor of child (mid-15c.). Meaning "be burdened" (with trouble, affliction, etc., usually with under) is from late 15c. The transitive senses have tended to go with belabor. Related: Labored; laboring.
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persecution (n.)

mid-14c., persecucioun, "oppression for the holding of a belief or opinion," from Old French persecucion "persecution, damage, affliction, suffering" (12c.) and directly from Latin persecutionem (nominative persecutio), noun of action from past-participle stem of persequi "to follow, pursue, hunt down; proceed against, prosecute, start a legal action," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + sequi "follow" (from PIE root *sekw- (1) "to follow").

General senses of "malevolent oppression, harassing or oppressive treatment," also "a time of general or systematic oppression" are from late 14c. Psychological persecution complex in reference to an irrational sense of being victimized by malign forces as a feature of a mental disorder is recorded from 1961; the earlier phrase for it was persecution mania (1892).

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anger (n.)

mid-13c., "hostile attitude, ill will, surliness" (also "distress, suffering; anguish, agony," a sense now obsolete), from Old Norse angr "distress, grief, sorrow, affliction," from Proto-Germanic *angaz (from PIE root *angh- "tight, painfully constricted, painful"). Cognate with German Angst. Sense of "rage, wrath" is early 14c.

From the sense of oppression, or injury, the expression was transferred to the feelings of resentment naturally aroused in the mind of the person aggrieved. In the same way, the word harm signifies injury, damage in English, and resentment, anger, vexation in Swedish.
The idea of injury is very often expressed by the image of pressure, as in the word oppress, or the Fr. grever, to bear heavy on one. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859 ]

Old Norse also had angr-gapi "rash, foolish person;" angr-lauss "free from care;" angr-lyndi "sadness, low spirits."

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passion (n.)
Origin and meaning of passion

c. 1200, "the sufferings of Christ on the Cross; the death of Christ," from Old French passion "Christ's passion, physical suffering" (10c.), from Late Latin passionem (nominative passio) "suffering, enduring," from past-participle stem of Latin pati "to endure, undergo, experience," a word of uncertain origin. The notion is "that which must be endured."

The sense was extended to the sufferings of martyrs, and suffering and pain generally, by early 13c. It replaced Old English þolung (used in glosses to render Latin passio), literally "suffering," from þolian (v.) "to endure." In Middle English also sometimes "the state of being affected or acted upon by something external" (late 14c., compare passive).

In Middle English also "an ailment, disease, affliction;" also "an emotion, desire, inclination, feeling; desire to sin considered as an affliction" (mid-13c.). The specific meaning "intense or vehement emotion or desire" is attested from late 14c., from Late Latin use of passio to render Greek pathos "suffering," also "feeling, emotion." The specific sense of "sexual love" is attested by 1580s, but the word has been used of any lasting, controlling emotion (zeal; grief, sorrow; rage, anger; hope, joy). The meaning "strong liking, enthusiasm, predilection" is from 1630s; that of "object of great admiration or desire" is by 1732.

As compared with affection, the distinctive mark of passion is that it masters the mind, so that the person becomes seemingly its subject or its passive instrument, while an affection, though moving, affecting, or influencing one, still leaves him his self-control. The secondary meanings of the two words keep this difference. [Century Dictionary]

A passion-play (1843, in a German context) represents the scenes in the Passion of Christ. The passion-flower was so called from the 1630s.

The name passionflower — flos passionis — arose from the supposed resemblance of the corona to the crown of thorns, and of the other parts of the flower to the nails, or wounds, while the five sepals and five petals were taken to symbolize the ten apostles — Peter ... and Judas ... being left out of the reckoning. [Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1885]
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cross (v.)

c. 1200, "make the sign of a cross as an act of devotion," from cross (n.) and in part from French croiser. Sense of "to go across, pass from side to side of, pass over" is from c. 1400; that of "to cancel by drawing a line over or crossed lines over" is from mid-15c.

From late 14c. as "lie across; intersect;" also "place (two things) crosswise of each other; lay one thing across another." From early 15c. as "mark a cross on." Meaning "thwart, obstruct, hinder, oppose" is from 1550s. Meaning "to draw or run a line athwart or across" is from 1703. Also in Middle English in now-archaic sense "crucify" (mid-14c.), hence, figuratively, crossed "carrying a cross of affliction or penance."

Sense of "cause to interbreed" is from 1754. In telegraphy, electricity, etc., in reference to accidental contact of two wires on different circuits or different parts of a circuit that allows part of the current to flow from one to the other, from 1884. Meaning "to cheat" is by 1823.

Cross my heart as a vow is from 1898. To cross over as euphemistic for "to die" is from 1930. To cross (someone's) path "thwart, obstruct, oppose" is from 1818. Of ideas, etc., to cross (someone's) mind "enter into" (of an idea, etc.) is from 1768; the notion is of something entering the mind as if passing athwart it.

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distress (v.)

late 14c., distressen, "constrain or compel by pain, suffering, or other circumstances; harass," from Old French destresser "restrain, constrain; afflict, distress," from Vulgar Latin *districtiare "restraint, affliction, narrowness, distress," from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere "draw apart, hinder," also, in Medieval Latin "compel, coerce," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + stringere "draw tight, press together" (see strain (v.)).

From c. 1400 as "afflict with mental or physical pain, make miserable." From early 15c. as "to damage;" specifically "damage a piece of furniture to make it appear older (and thus more valuable)" by 1926.

My particular job is "distressing" new furniture—banging, hammering and knocking it to give it the wear of time. This is not so easy a task as it seems. The smallest mistake may make all your work useless. In high-class "antiques" such as we carry, you have to satisfy not only the average person but people who go in for furniture as a hobby. ["It's a Wise Man Who Knows a Real Antique," Popular Science Monthly, June 1926]
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cross (n.)

Old English cros "instrument of Christ's crucifixion; symbol of Christianity" (mid-10c.), probably from Old Norse or another Scandinavian source, picked up by the Norse from Old Irish cros, from Latin crux (accusative crucem, genitive crucis) "stake, cross" on which criminals were impaled or hanged (originally a tall, round pole); hence, figuratively, "torture, trouble, misery;" see crux. Also from Latin crux are Italian croce, French croix, Spanish and Portuguese cruz, Dutch kruis, German Kreuz

The modern word is the northern England form and has predominated. Middle English also had two other forms of the same word, arriving from the continent by different paths: cruche, crouche (c. 1200) was from Medieval Latin, with pronunciation as in Italian croce (compare Crouchmas "festival of the Invention of the Cross," late 14c.). Later, especially in southern England, the form crois, croice, from Old French, was the common one (compare croisade, the older form of crusade). The Old English word was rood.

By c. 1200 as "ornamental likeness of the cross, something resembling or in the form of a cross; sign of the cross made with the right hand or with fingers." From mid-14c. as "small cross with a human figure attached; a crucifix;" late 14c. as "outdoor structure or monument in the form of a cross." Also late 14c. as "a cross formed by two lines drawn or cut on a surface; two lines intersecting at right angles; the shape of a cross without regard to religious signification." From late 12c. as a surname.

From c. 1200 in English in the figurative sense "the burden of a Christian; any suffering voluntarily borne for Christ's sake; a trial or affliction; penance in Christ's name," from Matthew x.38, xvi.24, etc. Theological sense "crucifixion and death of Christ as a necessary part of his mission" is from late 14c.

As "a mixing of breeds in the production of animals" from 1760, hence broadly "a mixture of the characteristics of two different things" (1796). In pugilism, 1906, from the motion of the blow, crossing over the opponent's lead (1880s as a verb; cross-counter (n.) is from 1883). As "accidental contact of two wires belonging to different circuits," 1870.

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