Is the Latin term Trix for a female person related to the term turning tricks as related to prostitution? I have reviewed the origination of turning tricks as noted on this site. However, it did not mention anything about the Latin origin of Trix itself. It only mentions the French term trique.

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    Trix are for kids. – Robusto Jun 5 '15 at 15:19
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    Essentially it's just a feminine suffix added to the basic agentive -tor which compesses it into -trix, a feminine agentive. Nothing special, just Latin morphology. – John Lawler Jun 5 '15 at 15:43
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    No. Even in the case of peccatrix , a female sinner, it's entirely coincidental. – Hugh Jun 5 '15 at 16:04
  • Silly Robusto. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trix_%28cereal%29 – rajah9 Jun 5 '15 at 16:11
  • The Latin, or at least medieval Latin, for prostitute is meretrix. As JL and Hugh say, however, the -trix part is just the feminine suffix, not the part that does the meaning work. Note that a feminine suffix and "a term for a female person" are not the same thing; would you say that Ess is the English word for a female person just because we have (or had) Authoress and Adulteress? – David Pugh Jun 5 '15 at 17:56

The noun trick and the suffix -trix are not related in English. If they share a common origin, it would predate their Latin origin:


early 15c., "a cheat, a mean ruse,"
from Old North French trique "trick, deceit, treachery, cheating,"
from trikier "to deceive, to cheat," variant of Old French trichier "to cheat, trick, deceive," of uncertain origin,
probably from Vulgar Latin *triccare,
from Latin tricari "be evasive, shuffle,"
from tricæ "trifles, nonsense, a tangle of difficulties," of unknown origin.

Meaning "a roguish prank" is recorded from 1580s; sense of "the art of doing something" is first attested 1610s.
Meaning "prostitute's client" is first attested 1915; earlier it was U.S. slang for "a robbery" (1865).
To do the trick "accomplish one's purpose" is from 1812;
to miss a trick "fail to take advantage of opportunity" is from 1889; from 1872 in reference to playing the card-game of whist, which might be the original literal sense.
Trick-or-treat is recorded from 1942. Trick question is from 1907.

etymonline.com emphasis added


fem. agential suffix,
from Latin, corresponding to masc. -tor (see -or).


  • 2
    Now THAT's a good answer! I'd give it 2 +1's if I could. I feel very educated on the meaning and history of the word "trick"! :-) – Kristina Lopez Jun 5 '15 at 16:00

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