Etymology
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Words related to mystery

ministry (n.)

c. 1200, ministerie, "the office or function of a priest, a position in a church or monastery; service in matters of religion," from Old French menistere "service, ministry; position, post, employment" and directly from Latin ministerium "office, service, attendance, ministry," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)).

From late 14c. as "personal service or aid." From 1560s as "the body of ministers of religion, the clerical class." From 1710 as "the body of ministers of state in a country." It began to be used 1916 in the names of certain departments in the British government.

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mute (adj.)

late 14c., mewet "silent, not speaking," from Old French muet "dumb, mute" (12c.), diminutive of mut, mo, from Latin mutus "silent, speechless, dumb," probably from imitative base *meue- (source also of Sanskrit mukah "dumb," Greek myein "to be shut," of the mouth). Form assimilated in 16c. to Latin mutus. The meaning "incapable of utterance, dumb" is by mid-15c.

*mei- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "small."

It forms all or part of: administer; administration; comminute; diminish; meiosis; Menshevik; menu; metier; mince; minestrone; minim; minimum; minister; ministration; ministry; minor; minuend; minuet; minus; minuscule; minute; minutia; Miocene; mis- (2); mite (n.2) "little bit;" mystery (n.2) "handicraft, trade, art;" nimiety.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit miyate "diminishes, declines;" Greek meion "less, smaller;" Latin minus, minor "smaller," minuere "to diminish, reduce, lessen;" Old English minsian "to diminish;" Russian men'she "less."

mystagogue (n.)

"person who initiates into mysteries," 1550s, from Latin mystagogus "a guide to the mysteries," from Greek mystagōgos, from mystēs "one initiated into the mysteries" (see mystery (n.1)) + agōgos "leading, a leader," from agein "to lead" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). Related: Mystagogic; mystagogical.

mysterious (adj.)

1610s, "full of mystery, obscure, not revealed or explained," from Latin mysterium (see mystery (n.1)) + -ous. Related: Mysteriously; mysteriousness. Earlier in same sense was mysterial (early 15c.), from Late Latin mysterialis.

Mysterious is the most common word for that which is unknown and excites curiosity and perhaps awe; the word is sometimes used where mystic would be more precise. Mystic is especially used of that which has been designed to excite and baffle curiosity, involving meanings in signs, rites, etc., but not with sufficient plainness to be understood by any but the initiated. [Century Dictionary]
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm
[Cowper, from the "Olney Hymns," 1779]

Related: Mysteriously; mysteriousness.

mystic (adj.)

late 14c., mistike, "spiritually allegorical, pertaining to mysteries of faith," from Old French mistique "mysterious, full of mystery" (14c.), or directly from Latin mysticus "mystical, mystic, of secret rites" (source also of Italian mistico, Spanish mistico), from Greek mystikos "secret, mystic, connected with the mysteries," from mystes "one who has been initiated" (see mystery (n.1)).

Meaning "pertaining to occult practices or ancient religions" is recorded by 1610s. That of "hidden from or obscure to human knowledge or comprehension" is by 1630s.

sacrament (n.)

late Old English, in Christian use, "an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace," especially "a sacrament of the Church, one of the religious ceremonies enjoined by Christ or the Church," and later specifically "the sacrament of the Eucharist" (c. 1300), from Old French sacrament "consecration; mystery" (12c., Modern French sacrement) and directly from Latin sacramentum, "a solemn oath" (source also of Spanish sacramento, German Sakrament, etc.), from sacrare "to consecrate" (see sacred).

A Church Latin loan-translation of Greek mysterion (see mystery). The Latin word sacramentum in its secular aspect was used of any engagement or ceremony that binds or imposes obligation, specifically "oath of obedience and fidelity taken by Roman soldiers on enlistment; sum which two parties to a suit first deposit," hence also, "a cause, a civil suit," thus either "a result of consecration" or "a means of consecration." By 3c. it was used in Church Latin for "a mystery, a sacrament, something to be kept sacred; the gospel revelation; a Church sacrament." In theology, particularly, "a solemn religious ceremony enjoined by Christ, or by the church, for the spiritual benefit of the church or of individual Christians, by which their special relation to him is created or recognized or their obligations to him are renewed and ratified."

The meaning "arcane knowledge; a secret; a mystery; a divine mystery" in English is from late 14c. (Wyclif); from mid-14c. as "a solemn oath, pledge, covenant; a ceremony accompanying the taking of an oath or the making of a pledge." The seven sacraments in the West were baptism, penance, confirmation, holy orders, the Eucharist, matrimony, and anointing of the sick (extreme unction); the Reformation loosened the sense in England.