The evolution of the word ‘evolution’

It is curious that, although the modern theory of evolution has its source in Charles Darwin’s great book On the Origin of Species (1859), the word evolution does not appear in the original text at
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It is curious that, although the modern theory of evolution has its source in Charles Darwin’s great book On the Origin of Species (1859), the word evolution does not appear in the original text at all. In fact, Darwin seems deliberately to have avoided using the word evolution, preferring to refer to the process of biological change as ‘transmutation’. Some of the reasons for this, and for continuing confusion about the word evolution in the succeeding century and a half, can be unpacked from the word’s entry in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Evolution before Darwin The word evolution first arrived in English (and in several other European languages) from an influential treatise on military tactics and drill, written in Greek by the second-century writer Aelian (Aelianus Tacticus). In translations of his work, the Latin word evolutio and its offspring, the French word évolution, were used to refer to a military manoeuvre or change of formation, and hence the earliest known. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Linguistics

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