The Etymology of the Word 'Conservatory'04/02/2016
At Conservatories Etc, we’re conservatory experts. But what does the word ‘conservatory’ really mean – and what’s the hidden story behind it? We’re taking a look at the etymology of the word ‘conservatory’ to find out.
The word ‘conservatory’ was first used in English in the 16th century to denote anything relating to preservation – think of the verb ‘to conserve’. The root of the word can be found in the late Latin verb conservare (to preserve) which itself was a composite formed out of the parts con (together) and servare (to keep).
A Semantic Shift
When ‘conservatory’ was first used in the English language, it had a broader meaning than the one we give it today. A conservatory was anything that preserved something – it could mean a room of glass as a conservatory of plants in the winter, or it could mean salt as a conservatory of meat and fish. At some point, this broader implication fell out of use and ‘conservatory’ came to mean only the glass house we know today, a type of semantic shift known as semantic narrowing.
In the 19th Century, ‘conservatory’ took on the extra meaning of a performing arts school. This meaning is only used in the USA, and it comes from the Italian conservatorio, meaning a home for foundlings. Interestingly, it also comes from the Latin conservare, but the meaning developed differently over time in North America.
To find out about getting a conservatory yourself, call us at 01953 600505, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop in to see us at one of our showrooms in Wymondham or Diss. Don’t worry – you won’t need a dictionary!