Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Does create come from the Latin word creatra?

Is it linguistically correct for a person to use the word 'Create' for other than the meaning of bringing from non-existence into existence, which is only for God? Did this word undergo a natural change over time to the extent that we recognize a new authentic meaning, like 'make' or 'construct'?

share|improve this question
3  
Bringing from no-existence into existence is only for God? This post did not exist. Now this post exists. So you are saying you are God. That won't sit well with the real God. –  RegDwigнt Aug 27 '13 at 23:21
add comment

3 Answers 3

Origin of the verb ‘create’

‘Create’ does not come from Latin creatra; it comes from the past passive participle creātus, from the verb creāre ‘to create’. (Like all other verbs in -ate in English, which also come from a generalised participle of verbs that originally belonged in the first declension in -āre in Latin.)

This verb in itself is from a Proto-Indo-European root *ḱerh₂- whose original meaning seems to have been ‘grow’. Creāre is kind of a conflation of stem forms (full grade *ḱerh₂- > Lat. cer(i)-; zero grade ḱr̥h₂- > Lat. crā-; and vrddhi forms with ḱreh₂- > Lat. crē-), but it is in essence an old causative verb, as with nearly all verbs in the first declension in Latin: its original meaning was ‘to make [something] grow’.

Making something grow is only a small step away from creating it, and that’s the path the verb took within Latin. In Latin, thus, the sense of ‘grow’ was relegated to the original inchoative verb (‘to start growing’), crēscere, which is found in English loanwords such as ‘crescent’ (waxing or growing moon) and ‘crescendo’ (steadily growing volume/pace). In other languages, similar changes of course took place, but the root is the same as that found in Greek κόρος/κόρη kóros/kórē ‘boy/girl’ (the ones that are growing = kids) or in Icelandic hirsi ‘millet’ (‘the grower’ = a type of corn).

 

Meanings of the verb ‘create’

As we have already seen, the original meaning of the word has nothing to do with creation—that is an extended meaning that developed in Latin.

The specific meaning of ‘creating somethingness out of nothingness’ that you attribute to God alone is also not found in Latin—the Romans themselves used the verb for many things that they, not their gods, created.

Even if they hadn’t, it is important to note that the verb is Latin, i.e., it was used in the Roman world. The Romans did not have the same monotheistic view of the world that some people today have: creation from nothingness to somethingness was not considered a godly prerogative at all. Within Christianity, it is a commonly held belief, but this verb was used long before the Romans ever heard of Christianity. Whether one religion or the other is true, or whether one god or set of gods or the other really does exist, is quite irrelevant to this: the Romans—who used the word—were unaware of this Christianity-based restriction on the concept of creation, so naturally they did not apply it to their words.


In other words, the only shift in meaning that has occurred with the word is not one away from ‘divine-only prerogative creation’ to simply ‘making’, but rather the opposite: from any ol’ act of making, to the more limited creation that some hold only God is capable of.

share|improve this answer
1  
Brilliant, +1! And a special thanks for the κόρος/κόρη I had no idea that could be traced to the same PIE root. –  terdon Aug 27 '13 at 17:08
    
The *ḱerh₂ root was called *ker-² in the 2000 AHD of PIE, which is the last edition online. –  John Lawler Aug 27 '13 at 18:39
    
I'm not familiar with the AHD's reconstruction schemes, but a quick gander at your link left me most confused! They seem to be operating with completely different basic PIE root structures and derivation principles. (But I'm typing this on my phone while boarding a train, so this is perhaps not the ideal moment to check) –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 27 '13 at 18:47
    
Oh, part of it seems also to be due to letters with diacritics being images that hadn't loaded before. I was wondering why the root would originally have been *er-, becoming *ker- in centum languages. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 27 '13 at 18:48
add comment

The etymonline entry for create is:

late 14c., from Latin creatus, past participle of creare "to make, bring forth, produce, beget," related to crescere "arise, grow" (see crescent). Related: Created; creating.

There is no mention of God there, how is creating exclusive to God? I create things every time I cook for example. I can also create a problem if I go and punch Mike Tyson or I can create a piece of music or a software program. There is nothing in the word's meaning or etymology that restricts it to a deity. You just created a question, your question did not exist before you wrote it, how is that not "bringing from no-existence into existence"?

As far as I can tell, the original Latin meaning is the same as the current one.

share|improve this answer
    
I guess if you believe in a capital C Creator then that might indicate you're talking about a deity if you capitalize it. Your explanation is perfect: "your question did not exist before you wrote it"! –  dcaswell Aug 27 '13 at 16:59
add comment

As I understood it the verb create has its origins from the sanskrit root ''kr" meaning 'to do' and 'to make'

I cannot remember where I came across this but it seemed very plausible as there are very similar words in sanskrit derived from that root.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.