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Etymology of “Economy”

What is the origin of the word Economy?

We learned earlier about the origin of the word finance. Today we will focus on the etymology of the term economy, which at the beginning had a somewhat different connotation from the one we are used today.

Nowadays, Economy refers to the management of resources, such as money, materials, or labor… or the system or range of economic activity in a country, region, or community, whereas Economics refers to the social science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, and with the theory and management of economies or economic systems.

Economist, economize, economical… all these terms stem from the same word. So, let’s have a closer look.

Etymology of the word Economy

origin of the word Economy

The first part of the term Economy, Eco, is derived from Ancient Greek Oikos (οἶκος, plural  οἶκοι), which meant “house, abode, dwelling”. The Ancient Greeks used the word Oikos to refer to three related but different in nature household categories, namely,  the family, the family’s property (slaves, farmland…), and the house.

origin of the word economy

Nemo (νέμω, némō), the second part of the term, also stems from the Ancient Greek and means “(to) manage, distribute;(to) deal out or dispense”.

Hence, the word Oikonomia (οἰκονομία) meaning “the management  and administration of a household”.

origin of economy

The first recorded sense of the word “economy” is in the phrase “the management of œconomic affairs” , which was found in a monastic work possibly drawn up in 1440. “Economy” is later recorded in a variety of senses, such as “thrift” or “administration”. The most generally used current sense, meaning “the economic system of a country or an area”, as it seems, did not appear until the 17th century.

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