Words related to grammar
noun word-forming element, "that which is written or marked," from Greek gramma "that which is drawn; a picture, a drawing; that which is written, a character, an alphabet letter, written letter, piece of writing;" in plural, "letters," also "papers, documents of any kind," also "learning," from stem of graphein "to draw or write" (see -graphy). Some words with it are from Greek compounds, others are modern formations. Alternative -gramme is a French form.
From telegram (1850s) the element was abstracted by 1959 in candygram, a proprietary name in U.S., and thereafter put to wide use as a second element in forming new commercial words, such as Gorillagram (1979), stripagram (1981), and, ultimately, Instagram (2010). The construction violates Greek grammar, as an adverb could not properly form part of a compound noun. An earlier instance was the World War II armed services slang latrinogram "latrine rumor, barracks gossip" (1944).
Old English stæf (plural stafas), "walking stick, strong pole used for carrying, rod used as a weapon, pastoral staff," probably originally *stæb, from Proto-Germanic *stab- (source also of Old Saxon staf, Old Norse stafr, Danish stav, Old Frisian stef, Middle Low German and Middle Dutch staf, Old High German stab, German Stab, Gothic *stafs "element;" Middle Dutch stapel "pillar, foundation").
This is reconstructed to be from PIE root *stebh- "post, stem, to support, place firmly on, fasten" (source also of Old Lithuanian stabas "idol," Lithuanian stiebas "staff, pillar;" Old Church Slavonic stoboru "pillar;" Sanskrit stabhnati "supports;" Greek stephein "to tie around, encircle, wreathe," staphyle "grapevine, bunch of grapes;" Old English stapol "post, pillar").
As "pole from which a flag is flown," 1610s. In musical notation from 1660s. Sense of "group of military officers that assists a commander" is attested from 1702, apparently from German, from the notion of the baton that is a badge of office or authority (a sense attested in English from 1530s); hence staff officer (1702), staff-sergeant (1811). The meaning "group of employees (as at an office or hospital)" is attested by 1837.
Staff of life "bread" is from the Biblical phrase break the staff of bread meaning "cut off the supply of food" (Leviticus xxvi.26), translating Hebrew matteh lekhem.
The Old English word, in plural, was the common one used for "letter of the alphabet, character," hence "writing, literature," and many compounds having to do with writing, such as stæfcræft "grammar," stæfcræftig "lettered," stæflic "literary," stæfleahtor "grammatical error," with leahtor "vice, sin, offense."
Jamieson's 1825 supplement to his "Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language" has glamour-gift "the power of enchantment; metaph. applied to female fascination." Jamieson's original edition (1808) looked to Old Norse for the source of the word. Zoëga's Old Icelandic dictionary has glám-sýni "illusion," probably from the same root as gleam.