etymology, Semantics

Road and Routes from Latin to English


Did you know that the English term route and Swedish rutt ‘route’, as well as French route ‘road’ comes from the Latin term via rupta ‘broken road’. At first I thought about the slowly decaying Roman roads spread all over Europe, but in fact, broken here means ‘broken through nature/the underbrush’.

The English term road is not from the same stem at all! It comes from Middle English rode ‘act of riding, journey’, and ultimately from Old English ridan ‘to ride’.


Buck, Carl Darling. 1949. A dictionary of selected synonyms in the principal Indo-European languages; a contribution to the history of ideas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.