Word of the Week: Minute


Word of the Week MinuteWe all know that sixty minutes make up an hour, and what the word “minute” means when it comes to telling time, but the word’s history is a little bit more unclear.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the word minute – as we know it – comes from the Old French “minut” in the late 14th Century, from the Middle Latin word “minuta” which means a small note. In Middle Latin, the term “pars minute prima” means “first small part” and was a phrase used by the mathematician Ptolemy to describe a sixtieth of a full-circle.

However, noting that Ptolemy existed long before Middle Latin (Ptolemy; pronounced tolemi; was born in about AD 90 and died in roughly AD 168, whilst Middle Latin; or Medieval Latin as it is more commonly known; was the language used throughout the Middle Ages which wasn’t until the 5th to 15th Century.) I find it difficult to form a strong grasp of the real origins of the word.

Therefore, there is no doubt that the origins are confusing, so if anyone out there wants to shed more light on the origins of a word that is now so common place with our language, please do feel free to share.



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