The daily prompters are attempting to be original by giving us one word prompts. Hey, at least they’re trying, right? They’re not recycling old, tired prompts. E for effort.
Today’s word is Sentimental.
And, although I know the word and its meaning, I was prompted to look it up and find the origin. I can’t explain why. It’s a hobby of mine. Also, I’m not feeling well, so there’s that.
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as so:
Syllabification: sen·ti·men·tal Pronunciation: /ˌsen(t)əˈmen(t)l/
Definition of sentimental in English: adjective
1 Of or prompted by feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia:
She felt a sentimental attachment to the place creep over her
1.1 (Of a work of literature, music, or art) dealing with feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia, typically in an exaggerated and self-indulgent way:
a sentimental ballad
1.2(Of a person) excessively prone to feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia:
I’m a sentimental old fool
Dictionary.com defines it similarly but slightly differently:
1. expressive of or appealing to sentiment, especially the tender emotions and feelings, as love, pity, or nostalgia:
a sentimental song.
2. pertaining to or dependent on sentiment :
We kept the old photograph for purely sentimental reasons.
3. weakly emotional; mawkishly susceptible or tender:
the sentimental Victorians.
4. characterized by or showing sentiment or refined feeling.
And, since Dictionary.com’s definitions are circular — they depend on knowing the word “sentiment” which is the root of the word “sentimental” — I mean, how dumb is that? We have to look up “sentiment”:
1. an attitude toward something; regard; opinion.
2. a mental feeling; emotion:
a sentiment of pity.
3. refined or tender emotion; manifestation of the higher or more refined feelings.
4. exhibition or manifestation of feeling or sensibility, or appeal to the tender emotions, in literature, art, or music.
5. a thought influenced by or proceeding from feeling or emotion.
6. the thought or feeling intended to be conveyed by words, acts, or gestures as distinguished from the words, acts, or gestures themselves.
late 14c., sentement, “personal experience, one’s own feeling,” from Old French sentement (12c.), from Medieval Latin sentimentum “feeling, affection, opinion,” from Latin sentire “to feel” (see sense (n.)).Meaning “what one feels about something” (1630s) and modern spelling seem to be a re-introduction from French (where it was spelled sentiment by 17c.). A vogue word mid-18c. with wide application, commonly “a thought colored by or proceeding from emotion” (1762), especially as expressed in literature or art. The 17c. sense is preserved in phrases such as my sentiments exactly.
Sentimental however, didn’t come about until the 1740’s, according to the same website.
1749, “pertaining to or characterized by sentiment,” from sentiment + -al (1). At first without pejorative connotations; meaning “having too much sentiment, apt to be swayed by prejudice” had emerged by 1793 (implied in sentimentalist).
So there you have it… to be sentimental was originally to be thought to be swayed by prejudice, or strong feelings, rather than to be overwhelmed by feelings of love and mushy-ness.
You sentimental fool you.