Etymology
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Words related to *ser-

conservation (n.)
Origin and meaning of conservation

late 14c., conservacioun, "preservation of health and soundness, maintenance in good condition, act of guarding or keeping with care," from Latin conservationem (nominative conservatio) "a keeping, preserving, conserving," noun of action from past-participle stem of conservare "to keep, preserve, keep intact, guard," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + servare "keep watch, maintain" (from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect").

Meaning "preservation of existing conditions" in any sense is from mid-15c. The word has been used since late 15c. in reference to English municipal authorities who had charge of rivers, sewers, forests, fisheries, etc. Specifically with reference to preservation of nature and wild places by 1909.

The phrase conservation of energy apparently was coined in French by Leibnitz in 1692; it is attested in English publications from early 18c. as conservatio virum vivarum or partially nativized versions of it. The exact phrase is attested from 1853. 

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conservative (adj.)

late 14c., conservatyf, "tending to preserve or protect, preservative, having the power to keep whole or safe," from Old French conservatif, from Medieval Latin conservativus, from Latin conservatus, past participle of conservare "to keep, preserve, keep intact, guard," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + servare "keep watch, maintain" (from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect").

From 1840 in the general sense "disposed to retain and maintain what is established, opposed to innovation and change," or, in a negative sense "opposed to progress."

As a modern political tradition, "antagonistic to change in the institutions of a country," often especially "opposed to changes toward pure democracy," conservatism traces to Edmund Burke's opposition to the French Revolution (1790), but the word conservative is not found in his writing. It was coined by his French disciples (such as Chateaubriand, who titled his journal defending clerical and political restoration "Le Conservateur").

Conservative as the name of a British political faction first appeared in an 1830 issue of the "Quarterly Review," in an unsigned article sometimes attributed to John Wilson Croker. It replaced Tory (q.v.) by 1843, reflecting both a change from the pejorative name (in use for 150 years) and repudiation of some reactionary policies.

Strictly speaking, conservatism is not a political system, and certainly not an ideology. ... Instead, conservatism is a way of looking at the civil social order. ... Unlike socialism, anarchism, and even liberalism, then, conservatism offers no universal pattern of politics for adoption everywhere. On the contrary, conservatives reason that social institutions always must differ considerably from nation to nation, since any land's politics must be the product of that country's dominant religion, ancient customs, and historical experience. [Russell Kirk, "What is Conservatism," introduction to "The Portable Conservative Reader," 1982] 

Phrases such as conservative estimate (1874), in which it means "characterized by caution, deliberately low," make no sense etymologically. Related: Conservatively; conservativeness.

conserve (v.)

"to keep safe, preserve from loss or decay," late 14c., from Old French conserver (9c.), from Latin conservare "to keep, preserve, keep intact, guard," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + servare "keep watch, maintain" (from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect"). Related: Conserved; conserving.

As a noun (often conserves) from late 14c. as "that which preserves;" early 15c. as "a confection, something preserved with sugar, etc."

observance (n.)

mid-13c., observaunce, "act performed in accordance with prescribed usage," especially a religious or ceremonial one; late 14c., "care, concern, act of paying attention (to something)," from Old French observance, osservance "observance, discipline," and directly from Latin observantia "act of keeping customs, attention, respect, regard, reverence," from observantem (nominative observans), present participle of observare "watch over, note, heed, look to, attend to, guard, regard, comply with," from ob "in front of, before" (see ob-) + servare "to watch, keep safe," from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect." Observance is the attending to and carrying out of a duty or rule. Observation is watching, noticing.

observatory (n.)

"building for observing astronomical phenomena," 1670s (in reference to Greenwich), from French observatoire, from observer (v.) "to observe, watch over, follow," from Latin observare "watch over," from ob "in front of, before" (see ob-) + servare "to watch, keep safe," from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect."

observe (v.)

late 14c., observen, "to hold to (a manner of life or course of conduct), carry out the dictates of, attend to in practice, to keep, follow," from Old French observer, osserver "to observe, watch over, follow" (10c.), from Latin observare "watch over, note, heed, look to, attend to, guard, regard, comply with," from ob "in front of, before" (see ob-) + servare "to watch, keep safe," from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect." Sense of "watch, perceive, notice" is from 1560s, via the notion of "see and note omens." Meaning "to say by way of remark" is from c. 1600. Related: Observed; observing.

preserve (v.)

late 14c., preserven, "keep safe or free from harm," also "act so as to insure that something does not occur," from Anglo-French preservare, Old French preserver, Medieval Latin preservare "keep, preserve," all from Late Latin praeservare "guard beforehand," from Latin prae "before" (see pre-) + servare "to keep safe" (from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect").

From early 15c. as "maintain, keep in a certain quality, state or condition." Of fruit, etc., "prevent from spoiling by use of preservative substances," 1570s; of organic bodies, "keep in existence or alive," from 1610s. Related: Preserved; preserver; preserving.

reservation (n.)

late 14c., "act of reserving or keeping back," from Old French reservation (14c.) and directly from Late Latin reservationem (nominative reservatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin reservare "keep back, save up; retain, preserve," from re- "back" (see re-) + servare "to keep, save, preserve, protect" (from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect").

The mental sense of "qualification of a statement, etc., not expressed openly" is from c. 1600. The U.S. sense of "tract of public land set aside for some special use," especially exclusive use by native peoples, is from 1789, in reference to the Six Nations in New York State. The meaning "act or fact of engaging a room, a seat, etc." is from 1904, also originally American English.

reserve (v.)

mid-14c., "keep back or in store for future use;" late 14c., "keep as one's own," from Old French reserver "set aside, withhold" (12c.) and directly from Latin reservare "keep back, save up; retain, preserve," from re- "back" (see re-) + servare "to keep, save, preserve, protect" (from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect"). Meaning "to book" is from 1935. Related: Reserved; reserving.

reservoir (n.)

1680s, "a place where something tends to collect, place where anything is kept in store," originally figurative, from French réservoir "storehouse," from Old French reserver "set aside, withhold," from Latin reservare "keep back, save up; retain, preserve," from re- "back" (see re-) + servare "to keep, save, preserve, protect" (from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect").

Specific meaning "capacious artificial basin to collect and store water" is from 1705. Earlier in this sense, and more common late 17c.-early 18c., was reservatory (1660s). Meaning "part of a machinery in which fluid is contained" is by 1784.