Ladies and gentlemen, etymology is goddamn beautiful. I’ll give you an example why:

When the English were creating world maps in the 1400s, they didn’t use North as the primary indicator of direction. Instead, they wrote “orient” on the right side of the map (the East), and “occident” on the left side of the map (the West). “Orient” comes from the Latin word “oriri” meaning “to rise”. The sun rises on the East! Clever.

But that still begs the question, why is East the point of reference in European cartography? Time for History 101 abridged: In the Middle Ages, Christianity had an immense influence in culture and politics. Pretty much everything in life was motivated by it. That being the case, world maps pointed in the direction of the Holy Land in Jerusalem where Jesus Christ died and was resurrected. So to “orient” yourself meant you knew where East was.

Conversely, to be “disoriented” means you have lost your sense of direction. The official dictionary term means “to turn from the East” and it comes from the French word “desorienter”, but it means basically the same thing. Today it’s a general term for “where the hell am I”.

Bonus fact! The term “oriental” essentially means “people of the East”. But it’s outdated and offensive so be careful if you repeat these awesomely informational tidbits at parties.

Hell yeah etymology! Linguistics is awesome.

Source:

http://www.geolounge.com/map-orientation/ 

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