3

Cette question est amenée par celle-ci sur ELU. La traduction française se trouve ci-dessous.

physic (n.)
[1.] c. 1300, fysike, "art of healing, medical science," also "natural science" (c. 1300),
[2.] from Old French fisike "natural science, art of healing" (12c.)
[3.] and directly from Latin physica (fem. singular of physicus) "study of nature,"

[4.] from Greek physike (episteme) "(knowledge) of nature,"
from fem. of physikos "pertaining to nature," from physis "nature,"
from phyein "to bring forth, produce, make to grow" (related to phyton "growth, plant," phyle "tribe, race," phyma "a growth, tumor")
from PIE root *bheue- "to be exist, grow" (see be).
[…]

How can [4.] possibly be connected to [1.] and [2.]? I am uneducated in the history of medicine.
To wit, how did the bolded in [4.] narrow semantically to mean the bolded in 1 and 2?


French translation:

Comment est-il possible que [4.] se rapporte à [1.] and [2.] ?
À savoir, comment le gras en dans [4.]
se retrécie-t-il semantiquement pour signifier :
« medical science » in [1.] et « natural science, art of healing » in [2.] ?

Je suis inculte en histoire de la médecine ; veuillez expliciter tous les changements sémantiques dissimulés et manquants.

5

All of these meanings are closely related.

In particular, it is not surprising at all for a root meaning "knowledge of nature" to evolve into words applying to numerous subsets of such a wide concept, like "knowledge of human body and living organisms" (medical science, biology), how to heal them (medical science too), and "knowledge of the elements" (physical science), especially as during the centuries when this word evolved, what are now distant specialties were likely handled by the same persons that we might call generalists today.

Note also that the medical meaning side has faded in French. While it is still there in "forme physique", "éducation physique", unlike in English, we do not call a doctor a "physician/physicien"1 so we do not need to use "physiciste" for a physicist.

1 Actually we did, fisicien was used in the thirteen century French.

  • Thanks for your reply, but will you please explicate why it is not surprising at all? I do not see the connections. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Dec 3 '15 at 0:58
  • Living organisms do pertain to nature, aren't they? – jlliagre Dec 3 '15 at 3:24
  • @Làchus'n'AI Ah oui, c'est vrai. Un faux-ami très rare, comme scientiste. – jlliagre Dec 5 '15 at 8:43
  • @jillagre Vous avez raison oui, mais ce rétrécissement me semble trop contraignant et me confond déjà, en ignorant d'autres types de la nature. Pourriez-vous en expliquer plus, SVP ? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Dec 6 '15 at 16:56
  • Les mots subissent souvent des évolutions sémantiques au cours du temps. Physique désignait ce que l'on appelle aujourd'hui les sciences naturelles jusqu'à la fin du XVe siècle, où, en tant qu'adjectif, il commença à s'appliquer aux sciences expérimentales modernes, celles de Copernic et Galilée. – jlliagre Dec 6 '15 at 23:05
1

Littré donne de nombreux sens à physique, tournant tous autour de la nature et du matériel. Le dernier sens indique que le lien entre physique et médecine date du moyen âge.

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