Getting familiar with temptation
From: peter sutter
what is the root of family?
what is the root of temptation?
how did their present meaning evolve?
The modern word family has broadened to the extent that we can talk about, for instance, a family of languages, without suggesting close links. But originally it had nothing to do with relatives at all.
It sprang from the Latin famulus, servant, and broadened into familia, group of household servants. It was only in the 15th century that family started to take on the "blood" meaning, presumably through use in describing all the members of a household, and by the 17th century it was restricted to those people who were related. The phrase in the family way, meaning pregnant, is 18th century, and originally was confined (excuse the pun) to women who were unmarried.
Temptation comes from the Latin temptare, handle, from tendere, stretch. In English it took on the meaning of allure in the 13th century, but the original English meaning was closer to the Latin: to test or try, as in tempt fate.
I can't give you a definitive answer about the switch in meaning from test to allure, but I believe it would have been an easy one. Think for instance of someone saintly saying of a burden such as the opportunity for a slice of adultery, "This was sent by God to tempt (test) me." The test of resisting that which was alluring became the thing itself - the temptation.
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