Monday, January 17, 2011

Etymology Day: Apartment

WHOA it's been a long time since I did one of these. But you know what? I'm doing one today. And it's a doozy. Are you ready for this?

According to, the origin of the word apartment is as follows:

"1640s, "private rooms for the use of one person within a house," from Fr.
appartement (16c.), from It. appartimento, lit. "a separated place," from appartere "to separate," from a "to" (see ad-) + parte "side, place," from L. partem (see part). Sense of "set of private rooms in a building entirely of these" (the U.S. equivalent of British flat) is first attested 1874."

So now when someone pulls that old joke about "Why do they call them apartments when they're all stuck together?" you can answer with your new smarts. "Actually, the word apartment dates back to . . . "

You're welcome.


  1. "Why do they call them apartments when they're all stuck together?"

    That's an old joke? lol


    Love the etymology, though! Thanks for posting it up!

  2. Sir Nevets: Yes, it is unfortunately an older knee slapper. Along with such gems as "Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?" and "Why do they call things that go by car shipments and things that go by ship cargo?"

    All mysteries to me. UNTIL TODAY.

    At least the apartment thing. :)

  3. Thank you. I love things that can make me sound all know-it-all. lol

  4. Me too, Taryn, me too... that's probably where this feature came from, haha.

  5. I also love the things that can make me sound like a know-it-all, the problem is I never remember them when I need to! LOL
    Thanks for the post! :D