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Word Trail: Armour/amour (and a surprise!)

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Come on a word trail with me. This one is fun.

So, a while ago, I jotted down in my little notebook to research the connection between the word armour and the word amour. The difference is only one letter, and I was convinced that the little ‘r’ just sneaked its way into the word at some point. How amazing would it be, I thought, how philosophically apt (if a bit patriarchal) it would be if the word for love and the word for protection come from the same root?

Alas, English is a tricky language. It deceives the ear and the eye. But here’s what I found out.

The word amour comes from the Latin root amare, which means to love. However, the word armour comes from arma (which means weapons, as you might have guessed). So far, so uninspiring.

BUT. Our journey has not been in vain. Because what I found out is that the word armour, with all its conflictual connotations, comes from the same root as the word art. The root, *ar-, means to fit together, which made perfect sense for me for the armour part: the parts of the armour must fit together to provide protection and allow movement.

Figuring out why art means to fit together took me a little longer. There are no answers online, so this is purely my speculations. But, hey, artistic licence and all that.

There are two ways I think of art as meaning to fit together. First, art is done to express ideas or emotions and, therefore, communicate these to others. So, when we share our art with others, we fit better with them because now we understand each other a little better.

The second way is that, for me, creativity has always been about putting two seemingly disparate ideas together. The best kind of art is a synthesis of different ideas, world views, and fields. Think about mashups - it’s always much more intriguing when mashing together very different styles of music rather than pretty similar ones.

Unlike academia, these proposals can both be correct. So, I’d love to hear from you. Which interpretation did you like better and why? Do you have other explanations that ring true? I’d love to hear those too.


Hey there! Thanks for reading :) I would love to hear your thoughts about this. Just leave a comment below, click on the chat icon in the bottom right corner, or reply to the email.

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