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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The word permanent is defined as the continuing or designed to continue, something to last indefinitely without change. There are many iterations linked to the word. Permanent hardness is the water hardness which is not removed by boiling. Permanent magnetism is that which persists in the absence of an inducing field or current. Permanent press is a process of producing materials that retain their crease, shape, or press.

The word first originated from the classical Latin permanēns. In 5th century of the post-classical Latin era permanēns was used to mean stable, enduring, or to describe that a person is of a constant mind-frame or being. It was also used as an adjective, permanēre, which meant to go on staying, remain, continue, persist or survive. The prefix of the Latin word ‘per-’ is defined as something which forms words with the sense that space and time is seen throughout, with the sense of being thoroughly, completely, to completion or to the end.

Manēre, from the word permanēre means to stay or remain; something that will continue to belong to a person or thing. Together this formed the Latin word that has since shaped the current English word, permanent. The spelling of the word has changed over the years, for example the Old Occitan, permanent (1279 or earlier), Catalan permanent (c1400), Spanish permanente and permanent (both early 15th cent. or earlier), and Italian permanente (a1292).

The word permanent becomes prominent in the Middle French period, specifically from 1370 t0 1372, in which time French words are clearly distinguished from other Oïl languages used in that period. At this time it had different spellings; in the Middle French era it was permanent; during the first half of the 12th century in Anglo-Norman it was permegnant, parmanant, and permenant.
The first documented use of the word in the English language was from 1425, in a novel by Norman Moore, The book of foundation of St. Bartholomew’s church in London: the church belonging to the priory of the same in West Smithfield. Here the word is used in a sentence, ‘A bilynge certeynly styddefastly here permanent, vnspottid shall be translatid yn-to the kyngdome euerlastynge.’

An interesting concept about these examples or other examples used to describe something that is permanent, is the fact that they rarely are permanent things. Very few, if not nothing at all can endure or last forever without any change. The world around us continues to change and evolve, and so the idea of something that is permanent becomes a hypothetical question of the environment we live in. Buildings, for example, are meant to last forever. They are constructed in a way that they can withstand environmental outbreaks, and retain its original shape for many years. However, all buildings are eventually destroyed or lost. The only examples of persistent, lasting things are probably concepts and theoretical ideas. The act of love, the laws of physics, and matrices in mathematics are understandable examples of ideas that we have designed to be permanent in our lives. We typically describe materialistic things as being permanent, like a permanent establishment or permanent resident, but things change, people come and go, and nothing ever lasts forever. Perhaps the only thing permanent in life is change itself.

"permanent.". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/141184?rskey=06TZcS&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid (accessed November 19, 2012).

“Permanent, adj – Definition”.  Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.  November 2012.  Encyclopedia Brittanica. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/permanent (accessed November 19, 2012)

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