late 13c., from Old French ostage, hostage "kindness, hospitality; residence, dwelling; rent, tribute; compensation; guarantee, pledge, bail; person given as security or hostage" (11c., Modern French ôtage), which is of uncertain origin. Either from hoste "guest" (see host (n.1)) via notion of "a lodger held by a landlord as security" [Watkins, Barnhart]; or else from Late Latin obsidanus "condition of being held as security," from obses "hostage," from ob- "before" + base of sedere "to sit," with spelling influenced by Latin hostis. [OED, Century Dictionary]. Modern political/terrorism sense is from 1970.
Entries linking to hostage
"person who receives guests," especially for pay, late 13c., from Old French oste, hoste "guest, host, hostess, landlord" (12c., Modern French hôte), from Latin hospitem (nominative hospes) "guest, stranger, sojourner, visitor (hence also 'foreigner')," also "host; one bound by ties of hospitality."
This appears to be from PIE *ghos-pot-, a compound meaning "guest-master" (compare Old Church Slavonic gospodi "lord, master," literally "lord of strangers"), from the roots *ghos-ti- "stranger, guest, host" and *poti- "powerful; lord." The etymological notion is of someone "with whom one has reciprocal duties of hospitality" [Watkins]. The biological sense of "animal or plant having a parasite" is from 1857.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "stranger, guest, host," properly "someone with whom one has reciprocal duties of hospitality," representing "a mutual exchange relationship highly important to ancient Indo-European society" [Watkins]. But as strangers are potential enemies as well as guests, the word has a forked path.
The word ghos-ti- was thus the central expression of the guest-host relationship, a mutual exchange relationship highly important to ancient Indo-European society. A guest-friendship was a bond of trust between two people that was accompanied by ritualized gift-giving and created an obligation of mutual hospitality and friendship that, once established, could continue in perpetuity and be renewed years later by the same parties or their descendants. [Calvert Watkins, "American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots"]
It forms all or part of: Euxine; guest; hospice; hospitable; hospital; hospitality; hospodar; host (n.1) "person who receives guests;" host (n.2) "multitude;" hostage; hostel; hostile; hostility; hostler; hotel; Xenia; xeno-; xenon.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek xenos "guest, host, stranger;" Latin hostis, in earlier use "a stranger," in classical use "an enemy," hospes "host;" Old Church Slavonic gosti "guest, friend," gospodi "lord, master;" Old English gæst, "chance comer, a stranger."
eighth letter of the alphabet; it comes from Phoenician, via Greek and Latin. In Phoenician it originally had a rough guttural sound like German Reich or Scottish loch. In Greek at first it had the value of Modern English -h-, and with this value it passed into the Latin alphabet via Greek colonies in Italy. Subsequently in Greek it came to be used for a long "e" sound; the "h" sound being indicated by a fragment of the letter, which later was reduced to the aspiration mark.
In Germanic it was used for the voiceless breath sound when at the beginning of words, and in the middle or at the end of words for the rough guttural sound, which later came to be written -gh.
The sound became totally silent in Vulgar Latin and in the languages that emerged from it; thus the letter was omitted in Old French and Italian, but it was restored pedantically in French and Middle English spelling, and often later in English pronunciation. Thus Modern English has words ultimately from Latin with missing -h- (able, from Latin habile); with a silent -h- (heir, hour); with a formerly silent -h- now often vocalized (humble, humor, herb); and even a few with an unetymological -h- fitted in confusion to words that never had one (hostage, hermit). Relics of the formerly unvoiced -h- persist in pedantic insistence on an historical (object) and in obsolete mine host.
The pronunciation "aitch" was in Old French (ache "name of the letter H"), and is from a presumed Late Latin *accha (compare Italian effe, elle, emme), with the central sound approximating the rough, guttural value of the letter in Germanic. In earlier Latin the letter was called ha. The use in digraphs (as in -sh-, -th-) goes back to the ancient Greek alphabet, which used it in -ph-, -th-, -kh- until -H- took on the value of a long "e" and the digraphs acquired their own characters. The letter passed into Roman use before this evolution, and thus retained there more of its original Semitic value.
updated on September 07, 2015