psephology (sēˈfäləjē)

Today is a historic day in the United States because a new president will be elected. Psephologists everywhere will be trying to analyze and predict the outcome of this year’s election.

Psephology comes from the Greek roots pseph– meaning pebble, and –logy, meaning study of. Logically, psephology should then be the study of pebbles or perhaps rocks. However, psephology is actually the study of voting and elections.

This may not initially make sense, until you realize that the Ancient Greeks utilized pebbles to vote for public officials. The Greeks would deposit a pebble into an urn to indicate the candidate they wished to elect.

You might also be interested in the derivation of two other words related to elections – candidate and vote. The word candidate comes from the Latin word candidatus, which literally means “clothed in white.” In ancient Rome, a person seeking a public office would wear a toga whitened with chalk. The word candidate came into the English language at the beginning of the 17th century.

The word vote ultimately comes from the Latin word votum, which means a vow or a wish. This could mean that when people cast a vote, they are wishing for a better future and hoping that the candidate that they are voting for will do everything in their power to honor their promises or vows.

Even though I am not old enough to vote, I will be accompanying my parents as they cast their votes today!

 

 

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