Etymology of "Economy"

There is no doubt that when the candidates get together tonight for the third and final debate, they will focus on the state of the economy.

Like many words frequently used in matters of state and government, economy has its origins in Ancient Greece.

Eco is a derivation of the Greek oikos, meaning an extended family unit that consists of the house, members of the family, slaves, farmland, and all property.

The oikos was run by the oldest male of the family, whose role it was to tend to agriculture and to ensure that all components of the family unit were running smoothly. Thus, eco now designates a broad, self-sustained unit, as in the terms ecology and ecosystem.

The suffix –nomy is derived from the Greek nomos, meaning management, law, or principle. Thus oikonomos, the original form of economics, meant the management of the hearth and home.

4 Comments
  • Pingback:Greece should be inspired by its golden age of economic growth—1000 BC - Quartz
    Posted at 06:49h, 02 July Reply

    […] Greece, though it would have meant something a little different back then—more about managing the affairs of the household. The Greeks could certainly use a little help arranging their affairs at the moment—the […]

  • Utkarsh Mishra
    Posted at 03:31h, 11 August Reply

    Nice Interpretation. But can you also tell me if there are some similarities in between the word Eco-“logy” and Eco-“nomics’. How does “logy” and “nomy” makes the different sense of the same “ECO”.

  • Simon Burdett
    Posted at 05:57h, 16 July Reply

    @Utkarsh Mishra Yes, it is very thought provoking, if the ECO means the household including land and livelihoods, and LOGY and NOMY really mean a similar thing (principles and logic towards understanding and managing) then ECONOMY also means managing our environment and its life-giving eco-systems..?

  • Laura Biesecker
    Posted at 14:12h, 02 September Reply

    the suffix, logy, does not mean the same as “nomy”. “logy” refers to the study of something. So “ecology” refers to the study of a “broad, self-sustaining unit”. Today, ecology often refers to the broad self-sustaining unit of the “environment”.It is “the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings”, which is often referred to as an “ecosystem”. However, ecology nor ecosystem have to strictly refer to the natural world, they can also apply to human constructs such as governmental systems or managerial systems, even work places or domestic organization.

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