Genuine: from Latin ‘gignere’ – to bring a child into the world

The etymology of the word genuine has become the stuff of legends, the word comes from the Latin “genuinus” which meant ‘innate’, and this is known to come from the word ‘gignere’, also Latin and meaning ‘beget’ which meant “bring a child into the world” (as in all the begatting that takes place in the bible).

So what do beget and genuine have in common? Well, the legend has it that the Latin ‘genuinus’ is actually rooted in another Latin word ‘Genu’ meaning knee and that the term refers to the Roman custom where a father would place a newborn child on his knee in order to acknowledge them as his child. There’s no written record to prove this relation for our etymology but it does seem highly likely given the PIE (proto-Indo-European) word ‘Gene’ meaning birth, which is the root for many words including genus.

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