In So Many Words

Info-Comics by Larry Paros


Getting Close to Others

We keep company with those who are closest to us — literally breaking bread together with them, from the Latin com, "with," and panis, "bread," making them our companions.

They're also our buddies, a common synonym for a "pal" in the armed services during WWII, who started life in the mid 19th century as a variation of butty companion — from the booty fellow, "an associate with whom you shared your booty or plunder."

Together they comprise our circle of friends. Our friends' roots can be found in early Anglo-Saxon times when households were divided into your loved ones (those related by blood or marriage) and slaves for whom you couldn't care less. A favorite word of the time was freon, "to love." But because you couldn't love someone you held in bondage, free, meaning "beloved" also came to mean, "not slave" — free in the modern sense of the word.

It was thus insured that all future friendships would be based on both "freedom" and "love." "Free" and "love" are two of the most beautiful words in the English language. How appropriate that when all else fails, it comes down to them, and what they come down to is being a good friend.

We often say of another that we are just friends with them. That happens to be quite an understatement. Being friends is about as good as it gets...except on Facebook that is.