desiderate (v)

A fascinating number of words etymologically relate back to “star” in one way or another, and “desiderate” is one of them.  It means “to wish or long for,” though I’d be careful to use it only in the most romantic, plangent tones.

Etymology: Latin – de sidera. “from the stars,” something along the lines of “await what the stars will bring.”

It is am emphatic form of the word “desire” which comes from exactly the same root.  It is closely related to a very common word, a word we all know, but is even more interesting when one considers the etymology of consider.

late 14c., from Old French considerer (13c.) “reflect on, consider, study,” from Latin considerare “to look at closely, observe,” perhaps literally “to observe the stars,” from com- “with” (see com-) + sidus (genitive sideris) “constellation” (see sidereal). Perhaps a metaphor from navigation, but more likely reflecting Roman obsession with divination by astrology. Tucker doubts the connection with sidus, however, because it is “quite inapplicable to desiderare,” and suggests derivation instead from the PIE root of English side meaning “stretch, extend,” and a sense for the full word of “survey on all sides” or “dwell long upon.” Related: Considered; considering.

To think about something, then, for the Romans (and for us) is to hold the stars in our minds.  To desire something is to wait for a star.  Carl Sagan said “we are starstuff” .. “we are a way for the universe to know itself” — The Romans seem to have known this and built it into the very language of thought.  Consciousness, thought, volition, desire are all a matter of stars, starring.

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