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Hot for Words
In the old days...the very old days...being able to go to "school" meant you had a lot of time on your hands.
That's because the word school comes from the Greek word schole, meaning "leisure." Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Plato used to gather groups of young men who weren't going to be distracted by mundane activities like working a job; they taught these young men, and called the gatherings "schole"...a name that carried the clear suggestion that these students could afford to spend their time doing something that most other people couldn't.
The name stuck, and later on, the Romans turned the Greek word that had come to mean "gathering of students" into schola, which in turn gave rise to English words like school, scholastic, and scholar. Nowadays, the idea that only cultured, leisured people should go to school has fallen out of favor ... one can only wish that school time were still considered leisurely!
When you use the word school in the phrase "school of fish," you're using a word with the same spelling, but a different lineage. That's because the word school in "school of fish" descends from a Dutch word that's akin to the Old English word scolu, meaning "gathering of people."Hot for Words. Copyright © by Marina Orlova. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.