Derivation of the word “Examen”

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New Member
I’m trying to figure out how the Latin word “Examen” came to mean “examine.”? The basic translation seems to be “swarm of bees,” and I’m curious how that comes to mean an examination (particularly ”of conscience”).
  • berndf

    German (Germany)
    The origine is ex-ago, to move out, to drive out. The meaning examination, investigation, consideration seems to be derived from the meaning tongue of a balance, which in turn is derived from the verbal root in the sence of what moves/is driven out of the resting position. I guess the meaning swarm of bees is what is moves/is driven out of a beehive.


    From this a funny Spanish etymological doublet arose: we have the old enjambre for bees, the new examen for the other meanings. In old times, bees were more important than schools :)


    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Same in the other Romance languages. It is very obvious that the meaning of 'swarm' is the inherited one: French essaim, Italian sciame, Portuguese enxame, Catalan eixam, and that examen/exame/esame are later learned words.

    Why the Spanish-Portuguese cluster adds an -n-, I don't know. But it can also be seen with EXAGIU: (Pt+Sp) ensaio/ensayo vs (Ct+Fr+It) assaig/essai/saggio, EXSUCARE: (Pt+Sp) enxugar/enjugar vs (Ct+Fr+It) eixugar/essuyer/asciugare, etc.
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