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.

The etymology of religion as mentioned in the title comes from Etymonline.

And that's very interesting. It makes sense too.

My question is, how do the phrases, "to read", "to choose", "to gather", "law", and "to bind" all come together to form the phonetic root "leg"/"lig" which constitutes the etymology of "religion". Or do they at all? Also, is there any meaning to the whole "leg" (body part) thing? Does this have something to do with legs and free will? Because that would be interesting.

Other roots with 'legere'

- "intelligence". 'intere': "between" + 'legere': "choose, pick out, read". [2]
- "legal": 'legere':"to gather" or 'lex':"law". [3]
- "ligament": L 'ligamentum': "to bind, tie". [4]

So, given this background, what do you know about the etymology of the word "religion", the meaning(s) of "legere", and, perhaps most importantly, the legitimacy of Etymonline as a source?

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=religion&searchmode=none http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=intelligence&searchmode=none http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=leg&searchmode=none http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=ligament&allowed_in_frame=0

share|improve this question
I'm not sure what's being asked here. Is this just a peeve against Etymonline? If you have a real question about the etymology of religion, I suggest phrasing it more succinctly. Also, all these highlighted URLs hurt my head—just highlight your key words and embed them as links please. –  Callithumpian May 23 '12 at 15:57
add comment

closed as not a real question by Callithumpian, JLG, Jim, Mitch, Marthaª May 23 '12 at 18:33

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Religion comes from Latin religio; many people from Cicero onwards have speculated about the origin of religio, but there is no known answer.

Legere meant originally 'to pick out', and went by a fairly obvious route to 'to read'.

You will have to make your own mind up about etymonline.com; like most sources it is useful if you understand it but not if you just copy it blindly.

The rest of your question would be very welcome on Latin.SE but isn't really on-topic here.

share|improve this answer
Also ligare (meaning to bind or tie) and legere (meaning to pick out) are two different Latin verbs which have given rise to similar-sounding words in English. –  Peter Shor May 23 '12 at 16:14
@Peter: and of course legare and legio. All or any of these may be related, but that's exactly what's off-topic. –  TimLymington May 23 '12 at 19:19
Does Latin.SE exist? –  Dan Sep 30 '12 at 5:37
@Dan: actually, there is a proposal in Area 51, at area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/21061/latin-language-usage. (You could go there and support it.) But I meant only that the fact that there is not yet a Stack Exchange site where a question fits does not stop it being off-topic here. –  TimLymington Sep 30 '12 at 11:01
add comment

The question makes a false assumption in claiming etymonline.com says:

The etymology of “religion” comes from “legere” meaning to read + “re” meaning again.

Read the etymonline.com entry again, it only says for certain that English "religion" comes from Latin religio (via Anglo-French and Old French). Beyond this, it offers three possible different roots:

  1. re+legere "read again", according to Cicero
  2. religare "to bind fast", according to later ancients (and many modern writers)
  3. religiens "careful"
share|improve this answer
add comment

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