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Saint Ignatius High School

Etymology Word of the Week

Director of Admissions Pat O'Rourke '90, a self-proclaimed "word nerd," brings you his Etymology Word of the Week. Every other week he presents an online Etymology lesson just for fun!

Etymology Word of the Week – As some of you know, in addition to working in the Admissions Office, I also teach Latin at Saint Ignatius and am something of a "word nerd."  Thus, each week, I’ll sneak a vocabulary word (sometimes derived from Latin, sometimes not) into the e-blast.  Here then is this week’s edition of the Etymology Word of the Week.  

Bankrupt


Definition: “In the state of one unable to pay just debts or meet obligations.”  

Origin/Derivation: From the Italian phrase banca rotta meaning “broken bench.”     

Related Words/Phrases: bank, bench, bunker; rupture, corrupt, erupt, interrupt, rout, route 

Did You Know?  We get the word “bank” from banca, which also meant “moneylender’s shop” - the bench (or counter) was supposedly where the money-changers placed any money they had available to lend.  Once they had no more money to lend, their bench was broken (or rotta in Italian; from the Latin rumpere, ruptus).