Beyond Words - Language Blog

Etymology of "Companion"

The history of words teaches us that food is the fuel of relationships. The word “companion”, from the Latin com “with” and panis “bread”, reminds us that food — and the brief respite allotted to people throughout history for sharing meals — feeds more than the physical body; it also nourishes generosity and friendship. To eat with someone implies a level of comfort with that person — a sense of security that mitigates the primordial fear that our provisions will be stolen from under our noses. The English “companion”, the Spanish “companero”, the Italian “compagno”, and the French “copain” all come from the Latin meaning “with whom one eats bread.”