The Degradation of Language
Langage changes. (I won't use the word 'evolve' for this as to me it seems the conception of 'evolution' that most have is that definition involves some measure of movement to the image of some vague 'higher order', ignoring that the opposite is also true and, depending upon personal concept, is exhibited in nature.)
What is vastly apparent is that language needs to adhere to some measure of currently 'common' perceptions (deceptions?) that can render it virtually useless as terms. A word may be very remote from its entymological source.
Might I pose one such instance of two definitions words that have what appears to be the same entymological source.
Try the word 'liberal' and 'libertarian'.
Webster's says of the entymology of the word 'liberal*' that:
"Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, from liber free; perhaps akin to Old English l*odan to grow, Greek eleutheros free"*
Webster's didn't feel it necessary to repeat that entymological definition in its listing of 'libertarian', but I believe it's because anyone who couldn't make the casual connection of source from just the sound of the word likely wouldn't be interested in using their product. They weren't (aren't) interested in the attendant and current acceptance. (I am.) I would think that's a reasonable assumption on their part. They do list the date of source of use as 1789.
I'll also give Webster's take on each word's definition, as those definitions are the subject of the post and we can make some truly interesting comparisons other than the first two syllables of each.
1 a : of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts *liberal education* b archaic : of or befitting a man of free birth
2 a : marked by generosity : OPENHANDED *a liberal giver* b : given or provided in a generous and openhanded way *a liberal meal*
c : AMPLE, FULL
3 obsolete : lacking moral restraint : LICENTIOUS
1 : an advocate of the doctrine of free will
2 a : a person who upholds the principles of absolute and unrestricted liberty especially of thought and action b capitalized : a member of a political party advocating libertarian principles
The word 'liberal' has been around since the 14th century, says the information, and I might put forth that due to the amount of time exposed and the fact that such a thing as defined has made the rounds of European political thought now for 6 or so centuries, that the word has had a number of different takes on its meaning. 'Libertarian' seems a much more a parochial word coined at the time of the American Revolution. Funny thing to those Founding Fathers, what that meant for them
politically definitely depended upon certain associated material facts. Like any word, it was loaded with personal and philosophical perception. It wasn't really operative but in those perceptions. If you didn't own land, if you were of a particular skin color and circumstance (owned and traded as chattel), how could it possibly apply other than philosophical overbearing? Though I'd hardly say that the Founding Fathers all believe that such material circumstance as a social and political bar to many was necessarily desired, they certainly allowed expediency and rationale to deem it so. Just a fact, not an actual criticism of the philosophy. I do have problems with the rationale portion, but I understand in the light of day and then-current political thought.
*All dictionary references copyright 2000, Merrian-Webster's Incorporated, Version 2.5