Where does the word "replenish" come from, and what does it mean? I know it is used as a form of "refill", but is that how it was originally?
It means (according to my trusty New Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary):
- to make full or complete again
- to supply with fresh fuel
- to fill again or anew
- (intransitively) to become full or complete again
According to another dictionary (the one built-in in Mac OS X), the origin of the word can be traced to Old French (and further to Latin, of course), as follows:
ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [supply abundantly] ): from Old French repleniss-, lengthened stem of replenir, from re- ‘again’ (also expressing intensive force) + plenir ‘fill’ (from Latin plenus ‘full’ ).
Based on that, I don't think it has had other meanings in English earlier. As to why should one use this word instead of the less fancy refill – I have no idea, except perhaps to show off & try to sound educated.
Webster's 1828 dictionary gives this definition:
In the transitive form:
REPLEN'ISH, verb transitive [L. re and plenus, full.] :
- To fill; to stock with numbers or abundance.
The magazines are replenished with corn.
The springs are replenished with water.
Multiply and replenish the earth. Gen 1.
In the intransitive form:
REPLEN'ISH, verb intransitive: To recover former fullness.
Another answer gives this:
... "replenish" is of French/Latin origin and "fill" is of Anglo-Saxon/Germanic origin. Interestingly, roll the clock back a couple thousand years and they should be the same word. Germanic languages tended to turn P into F, so the ancestor of both words was probably "pell" or "pill".
If it is a transitive verb ("Replenish the bin.") it means fill, if intransitive ("It will replenish", it means refill.
Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary
- a : to fill with persons or animals : STOCK b archaic : to supply fully : PERFECT c : to fill with inspiration or power : NOURISH
- a : to fill or build up again b : to make good : REPLACE intransitive verb : to become full : fill up again
Jonik is right, "replenish" is of French/Latin origin and "fill" is of Anglo-Saxon/Germanic origin. Interestingly, roll the clock back a couple thousand years and they should be the same word. Germanic languages tended to turn P into F, so the ancestor of both words was probably "pell" or "pill".