Word Origins | Milestone
Milestones often result in further growth.
Milestones are Cause for Celebration
As milestones come and go in our lives, we often contemplate the events leading up to the milestone itself and what is to follow. For many, milestones are a time of reflection and a time of hope; perhaps a time of regret and resolution; a time for putting the past in its place and welcoming a brighter future.
Milestones can be joyous, celebratory in fact, or they can be times of sadness. Like most things in life, one's perspective, is the glass half full or empty, can determine the "feeling" that accompanies any particular milestone. Milestones can make big goals attainable by breaking them down into smaller pieces.
Celebrating the ringing in of a new year can be a milestone event. Birthdays such as 16, 40, 50 or 100 are considered milestones. Wedding anniversaries, like Silver for 25 years and Golden for 50 years are treasured milestones. Milestones are even associated with reaching certain business goals, or project phases.
Sitting up without support, crawling, first steps, first smiles, first words, first birthdays, first day of school, first time riding a bike without training wheels -- each a milestone engraved in the memories of parents.
But with so much significance tied to milestone events, have you ever wondered about the significance of the actual word, milestone?
Definition of Milestone
Dictionary.com defines the noun milestone as:
- a stone functioning as a milepost.
- a significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person
Word Origin of Milestone
Word origins can be very fascinating, yet I am often struck how we use so many words without any clue as to the word's derivation. Etymology, the study of a word's origin, history, and change of meaning over time, is actually quite interesting.
The word origin of milestone is very old, in fact, the word dates back to 1746; that's over 265 years! But the origins of the word date back to around the 3rd century.
The Romans had built a huge 53,000 mile network of roads and for every 1,000 paces or approximately 4,800 feet a stone marker was placed. Travelers across Europe were then able to use these stones placed at such intervals to mark their progress. About 95 milestones still exist with inscriptions, mostly dedications to the current Emperor at the time of inscription, or distance to a location.
In literal terms, a milestone is actually a stone placed every mile. Even throughout our vast modern-day network of U.S. highways, mile markers are placed every single mile. (If you have ever driven across country, these mile markers actually may become a bit of an annoyance, making the hundreds of miles remaining seemingly endless.) Figuratively, though, a milestone marks progress and achievement.
The word origin of milestone is quite simple, yet fascinating that the placement of stones along roads centuries ago, is the root of a relatively common English word today.
The 50th Milestone
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The completion of this article on the word origin of milestone, is actually a milestone event for me. It marks the 50th article I've written for HubPages.
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