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The words idiom and idiot differ only in the final letters: t and m. So I was wondering - do these words have a common root? If so, how have the t and m changed this root?

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NOAD traces both back to Gr idios 'own, private', but the difference seems to stem to Gr derivatives of this. –  zpletan Apr 17 '12 at 21:19
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closed as general reference by Mitch, Kris, jwpat7, Mahnax, Hugo Apr 18 '12 at 7:25

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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I suspect this may be general reference, but from the OED:

Etymology of idiot:

ancient Greek ἰδιώτης private person, person without professional knowledge, layman, ignorant, ill-informed person, in Hellenistic Greek also common man, plebeian < ἴδιος private, own, peculiar (see idio- comb. form) + -ώτης -ote suffix

Etymology of idiom:

Hellenistic Greek ἰδίωμα peculiarity, property, peculiarity of style, form of language peculiar to a particular individual < ancient Greek ἰδιοῦσθαι to make one's own, to appropriate ( < ἴδιος own, private, peculiar: see idio- comb. form) + -μα (see -oma comb. form).

So it appears that they share a very distant root (idio-) but their meanings would have been distinct even in ancient Greece by virtue of the endings.

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If you came up with that information by looking it up on-line, then, yes, it is general reference. –  Mitch Apr 17 '12 at 21:51
@Mitch: the OED is only available (online) by subscription, so it's a bit harsh to call it general reference. –  TimLymington Apr 17 '12 at 22:26
@Tim: The etymology is available for all here: etymonline.com/index.php?term=idiot&allowed_in_frame=0 –  Hugo Apr 18 '12 at 7:28
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