new / news

News is a plural form of the noun new. New is from a common Germanic root, with cognates in most Germanic languages, and shares the same Indo-European root as the Latin novus and the Greek neo.

We normally don’t think of new as a noun, rather it’s usually used as an adjective, but it has a thousand-year history meaning something that is original and novel. From Alfred’s 888 translation of Boethius’s De Consolatione Philosophiae:

Wenst þu þæt hit hwæt niwes sie?
(Do you imagine that the new happens for you?)

We’re used to seen the noun usage today in phrases like the shock of the new.

The plural form news, meaning new things or novelties, first appears in Wycliffe’s 1382 Bible in Ecclesiasticus 24:25:

Þe whiche fulfilleþ as phison wisdam & as tigris in þe daiys of newis.
(Which are filled with wisdom as the Phison and Tigris rivers are in the days of news [the spring of the year].)

The sense of news meaning accounts of events or tidings dates to at least 1417. from Henry Ellis’s Original Letters Illustrative of English History:

The gracious prosperitie...of your renowned person...[is] soe gracious and joyous newes...to the principall comforte and especiall consolation of us and all your faythfull subjectes.

The idea that news is an acronym for north, east, west, and south, the directions from which tidings come, is utterly false.

(Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd Edition)

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