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Linguistic Explorations

Smacholdt's picture

The three terms that I chose to explore in more depth were: Garden, Permaculture, and Anthropocentric.

1. Garden

From Merriam Webster’s Dictionary Online:

1. Noun

a : a plot of ground where herbs, fruits, flowers, or vegetables are cultivated

b : a rich well-cultivated region

c : a container (as a window box) planted with usually a variety of small plants

2a : a public recreation area or park usually ornamented with plants and trees <a botanical garden>

b : an open-air eating or drinking place

c : a large hall for public entertainment

Verb: to lay out or work in a garden

transitive verb: to make into a garden

2: to ornament with gardens

Adjective: of, relating to, used in, or frequenting a garden

2a : of a kind grown in the open as distinguished from one more delicate <garden plant>

b : commonly found : garden-variety

Origin of the word:

Middle English gardin, from Anglo-French gardin, jardin, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German gart enclosure — more at yard

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonyms: amphitheater, arena, auditorium, hall, theater (or theatre)

(This is interesting- I’m not sure that I agree that these “indoor words” like auditorium, hall, and theater are synonymous with the word, “garden.”)


Noun: 1 a plot of ground, usually near a house, where flowers, shrubs, vegetables, fruits, or herbs are cultivated.

2.a piece of ground or other space, commonly with ornamental plants, trees, etc., used as a park or other public recreation area: a public garden.

3a fertile and delightful spot or region.

(Delightful seems like a pretty subjective word to use in a dictionary definition.)

adjective: pertaining to, produced in, or suitable for cultivation or use in a garden: fresh garden vegetables; garden furniture. (common, usual, or ordinary; unexceptional.)

verb (used without object) lay out, cultivate, or tend a garden.

verb (used with object) cultivate as a garden.


9.lead up / down the garden path, to deceive or mislead in an enticing way; lead on; delude: The voters had been led up the garden path too often to take a candidate's promises seriously.


1300–50; Middle English gardin  < Old North French gardin, Old French jardin  < Germanic;  compare Old High German gartin-, German Garten, yard2


From the Oxford English Dictionary Online:

a. An enclosed piece of ground devoted to the cultivation of flowers, fruit, or vegetables; often preceded by some defining word, as flower-, fruit-, kitchen-, market-, strawberry-garden, etc.


2. Permaculture

From Merriam Webster’s Dictionary Online:

Noun: an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems


1permanent + agriculture

First Known Use: 1978



Noun: a system of cultivation intended to maintain permanent agriculture or horticulture by relying on renewable resources and a self-sustaining ecosystem.

The word was coined by Bill Mollison (born 1928). He was an Austrailian ecologist. From perma (nent agri) culture.


From the Oxford English Dictionary Online:

Etymology:  < perma- comb. form + culture n.

orig. Austral. 

Noun: The development or maintenance of an artificial ecosystem intended to be self-sustaining and to satisfy the living requirements of its inhabitants, esp. by the use of renewable resources.

1978   B. C. Mollison & D. Holmgren Permaculture 1 i. 1/1   Permaculture is a word we have coined for an integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man. It is, in essence, a complete agricultural ecosystem.

1980   Express (Austral.) 2 July 6/5   A member of the Tagari Permaculture Community, Mr. Earl Saxon is in Queensland right now meeting with people and groups interested in Permaculture.

1995   Guardian 22 Mar. (Society section) 5/4   The 50-hectare farm uses permaculture techniques to produce a wide variety of fruits and vegetables as well as pigs, chickens, ducks and rabbits.

1998   Town & Country Planning 67 192/4   Milton Keynes Borough Council has supported the installation of a solar photovoltaic powered irrigation pump in a demonstration permaculture garden.

2001   Kindred Spirit Summer 20/1   Many eco-communities and permaculture projects are still being refused planning permission.


3. Anthropocentric

From Merriam Webster’s Dictionary Online:

Adjective : considering human beings as the most significant entity of the universe

2: interpreting or regarding the world in terms of human values and experiences

First Known use: 1863




1.regarding the human being as the central fact of the universe.

2.assuming human beings to be the final aim and end of the universe.

3.viewing and interpreting everything in terms of human experience and values.


1860–65; anthropo-  + -centric

Related forms

an·thro·po·cen·tri·cal·ly, adverb


From the Oxford English Dictionary Online:

Adjective: Centering in man; regarding man as the central fact of the universe, to which all surrounding facts have reference.

1863   J. W. Draper Intell. Devel. Europe (1865) iii. 42   In the most ancient records remaining, the Hindu mind is dealing with anthropocentric conceptions..of the moral kind.

1876   E. R. Lankester tr. Haeckel Hist. Creation I. ii. 38   The anthropocentric error, that Man is the premeditated aim of the creation of the earth.