Word for Wednesday: Luck

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Everybody needs a little bit of luck sometime.

The word itself originates from the 15th century Dutch ‘gheluc’: ‘happiness, good fortune’(Online Etymology Dictionary). Eventually, this shortened to ‘luc’. The modern German descendant, ‘Glük’ means prosperity. It is suggested that the word made its way into English via the gambling scene. Also worth noting is that fifteenth century Middle English featured a verb, ‘lukken’ meaning ‘chance’.

Perhaps today’s ‘luck’ is a merging of its two ancestors: ‘Gheluc’ and ‘Lukken’ combined to mean the ‘chance of good fortune’ Less commonly used is luck as a verb, despite being a perfectly valid application. I mean, how often do you hear ‘I lucked into a great job’? It seems to be an Americanism, which I’m sure you’ll stumble across as a dialect feature in novels if you haven’t already.

Google’s own etymology article on the word suggest a possible link to the word ‘lock’ raising the age old question of fate – what if ‘luck’ is ‘locked’?

Hugh MacDermott

20 Nov 2013
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