Etymology
Advertisement
modern (adj.)

c. 1500, "now existing;" 1580s, "of or pertaining to present or recent times;" from French moderne (15c.) and directly from Late Latin modernus "modern" (Priscian, Cassiodorus), from Latin modo "just now, in a (certain) manner," from modo (adv.) "to the measure," ablative of modus "manner, measure" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). Extended form modern-day attested from 1872.

In history, in the broadest sense, opposed to ancient and medieval, but often in more limited use. In Shakespeare, often with a sense of "every-day, ordinary, commonplace." Meaning "not antiquated or obsolete, in harmony with present ways" is by 1808.

Of languages, indicating the current form of Greek, etc., 1690s; modern languages as a department of study (1821) comprised those now living (i.e. not Latin or Greek) that were held to have literary or historical importance. The use of modern English is at least from c. 1600 (in Cowell's "Interpreter," explaining an Anglo-Saxon word). The scientific linguistic division of historical languages into old, middle, and modern is from 19c.

Slang abbreviation mod is attested from 1960. Modern art is from 1807 (in contrast to ancient; in contrast to traditional, representing departure or repudiation of accepted styles, by 1895); modern dance is attested by 1912; modern jazz by 1954. Modern conveniences is recorded by 1926.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
modern (n.)

1580s, "person of the present time" (contrasted to ancient), from modern (adj.). From 1897 as "one who is up to date."

Related entries & more 
post-modern (adj.)

also post-modern, post modern, by 1919, in frequent use from 1949, from post- + modern. Of architecture from 1940s; specific sense in the arts emerged 1960s (see postmodernism).

But it has been only during the later decades of the modern era — during that time interval that might fairly be called the post-modern era — that this mechanistic conception of things has begun seriously to affect the current system of knowledge and belief; and it has not hitherto seriously taken effect except in technology and in the material sciences. [Thorstein Veblen, "The Vested Interests and the Common Man," 1919]
So much for the misapplied theory which has helped set the artist's nerves a-quiver and incited him to the extremes of post modern art, literary and other. [Wilson Follett, "Literature and Bad Nerves," Harper's, June 1921]
Related entries & more 
modernity (n.)

1620s, "quality or state of being modern," from Medieval Latin modernitatem, noun of quality from modernus (see modern (adj.)). Meaning "something that is modern" is from 1733.

Related entries & more 
mod (n.1)
"tidy, sophisticated teen" (usually contrasted with rocker), 1960, slang shortening of modern.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
modernist (n.)

1580s, "a modern person," from modern (adj.) + -ist. Later, "one who admires or prefers the modern" (as opposed to the classical), 1704. As a follower of a movement in the arts (see modernism), attested from 1925.

Related entries & more 
modernize (v.)

"give a modern character or appearance to, cause to conform to modern ideas, adapt to modern persons," 1680s, from modern (adj.) + -ize, or from French moderniser. Related: Modernized; modernizing; modernizer (1739).

Related entries & more 
modernism (n.)

1737, "deviation from the ancient and classical manner" [Johnson, who calls it "a word invented by Swift"], from modern (adj.) + -ism. From 1830 as "modern ways and styles." As a movement in the arts (away from classical or traditional modes), from 1924.

I wish you would give orders against the corruption of English by those scribblers who send us over [to Ireland] their trash in prose and verse, with abominable curtailings and quaint modernisms. [Swift to Pope, July 23, 1737]
Related entries & more 
*med- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "take appropriate measures."

It forms all or part of: accommodate; accommodation; commode; commodious; commodity; empty; immoderate; immodest; Medea; medical; medicament; medicaster; medicate; medication; medicine; medico; medico-; meditate; meditation; Medusa; meet (adj.) "proper, fitting;" mete (v.) "to allot;" modal; mode; model; moderate; modern; modest; modicum; modify; modular; modulate; module; modulation; mold (n.1) "hollow shape;" mood (n.2) "grammatical form indicating the function of a verb;" must (v.); premeditate; premeditation; remedial; remediation; remedy.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit midiur "I judge, estimate;" Avestan vi-mad- "physician;" Greek mēdomai "be mindful of," medesthai "think about," medein "to rule," medon "ruler;" Latin meditari "think or reflect on, consider," modus "measure, manner," modestus "moderate," modernus "modern," mederi "to heal, give medical attention to, cure;" Irish miduir "judge;" Welsh meddwl "mind, thinking;" Gothic miton, Old English metan "to measure out."

Related entries & more 
modernistic (adj.)

"of, pertaining to, or suggestive of modernism or what is modern," 1878, from modernist + -ic.

Related entries & more