Remembrance Day/ Veteran

Mashed Radish

Though the midterm results may be casting a week-long shadow, Veterans Day is a time when the left and right come together to honor the men and women who have served in the US military. Perhaps the word veteran calls up an elder who fought in World War II. Or maybe it marshals up images of younger soldiers coming back from Iraq. The etymology of veteran indeed proves the word is very much about age–and some rather unwarlike animals.

"Bellwether." Doodle by @andrescalo. “Bellwether.” Doodle by @andrescalo.


Veteran is a relative veteran in the English language. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) first attests it in 1509, when, much as now, the word named an old or experienced soldier.

The word marched into England from France and from Italy yet before that: Latin has veterānus, a “veteran,” from vetus, meaning “old,” “aged,” or “long-standing.” Some forms of the word refer to “tradition,” “antiquity,” or “ancient forebears.” Others indicate the “slyness” or “expertise” that comes with age. A…

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