Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thoroughly Stretched

In the Book of Mormon we are constantly warned about the dangers of contention. For example in Mosiah 23:15 we are told that Alma did “teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them.” I know that contention means disputing or arguing, but the other day I looked up the word and discovered that it comes from the Latin word “contendere” which is made up of the prefix “com-“ which means thoroughly and the root verb “tendere” which means “to stretch.” Thus the original meaning of contending is “to stretch thoroughly.”

Sometimes a history of a word helps me understand the current meaning better. This one baffled me. How did “to stretch thoroughly” turn into “to dispute or argue”? I’m not sure, but the thought of someone being stretched thoroughly because they are arguing sent a mental picture into my mind that started me laughing. Stop for a minute and imagine it yourself. You become defensive and start to argue or defend yourself and as you do you start to stretch into a pencil thin, pinched together person. Think Pinocchio’s nose only instead of just your nose it is your whole body that stretches out like pulled taffy. You checks suck in, your eyes elongate, and your arms grow long. You have to admit it is funny!

Now every time I start to contend I’m going to think of that image and instead of contending, I’m going to laugh at myself and move on! I don’t know how “thoroughly stretched” became “contending” but I don’t like the thought of being “thoroughly stretched” so I’ll let the word history work to help me!


Laresa said...

When I thought of "to stretch thouroughly" I guess I didn't think of it in a physical sense. I thought of it using our words when we contend with one another we seem to go on and on, trying to get our point across... Stretch out every word and point very thouroughly trying sometimes to be the last one to make the last point.
Just a thought!

Wendi said...

I appreciated your contribution to this too, Laresa. And the picture you chose for this is so great, Sherrie. Just perfect to illustrate the point. :)

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Laresa, I like your interpretation. Thanks for adding it. xoxoxo

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Wendi, Don't you just love clipart! Thanks for your comment. You always make me feel good!