The uses of etymology

From The Economist, 9/13/14, a letter, p. 22, from Mark Watson of Galway, Ireland:

I have lived in France for the past three months and each day I heard François Hollande in the media talking about “croissance”. I assumed he was invoking citizens to support their local bakery, until I realized he was speaking about growth. My observation is that in France croissance can happen between 10am and 12 noon, and again after 2pm but no later than 7 pm…

That is, Watson understands the noun croissance to mean something like ‘supplying croissants‘, those yummy rolls. There’s a nice etymological story here.

(By the way, I would have written something like exhorting, rather than invoking, but it seems that invoke has ‘appeal to’ as one of its extended meanings.)

The source is the Latin root crēsc- ‘grow, increase’, which leads fairly directly to the French noun croissance ‘growth, increase’, used for growth generally, but especially for economic growth.

And separately we get Latin crescent, referring to the waxing (that is, growing larger) of the moon and to the shape of the crescent moon (used, among other things, as a symbol of Islam or of Turkey), borrowed into English as crescent and into French as croissant (‘waxing of the moon’ and the shape of the crescent moon). Which brings us to English crescent rolls and French croissants:

It’s all about growth.

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