Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Your career, your chariot

Etymology pointers based on a post at The Word Detective:

If you are thinking of your career as a carefully plotted out series of steps, increasing levels of responsibility with promotions every two years, it is worth at least considering the implication of danger, even of recklessness, inherent in the word's history.

Career comes from the Latin carrus, or wheeled vehicle. Think not of a wagon filled with hay pulled by a reluctant donkey in a muddy Roman field, but of a wheeled chariot racing into battle, the horses with nostrils flaring, the driver standing and holding a spear.

In Middle French a derivative of carrus came to mean "racecourse" and from that the metaphor of a "course of life" brought the modern sense of "chosen occupation."

But the word still retains a sense of daring and adventure. Career can be used as a verb meaning "to rush ahead at full speed."

Is your career a chariot? Crack the whip. Embrace the adventure buried in the word's origin.

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