I reckon historians looking back on this period will have to reckon with deep national divisions, a pandemic reckoned from its arrival here over a year ago, a presidency some reckon the nation’s most corrupt, and an attack on the U.S. Capitol. Historians will reckon the pros and cons of an impeachment by elected leaders who call for a reckoning.
Reckon comes from an Old English term of Germanic origin meaning to explain, relate, or arrange in order. By the 1300s it also meant to count or calculate, and a reckoning was a settling of accounts. Account (from Old French, c. 1300) meant a detailed statement of money owed or spent. “Having to report on the finances” soon broadened to “having to answer for one’s actions,” or being accountable.
On account of this latter meaning, a historical account of recent events will have to take into account the debate on whether accountability is possible without a reckoning.
2/8/2021 10:21:22 am
I do so love how your mind works. This sort of evolutionary litany really is fun for me to read. Thank you.
2/9/2021 07:05:30 am
Thank you, Corrine! I do love words and their stories - and the occasional sudden realization that just because a word feels totally familiar, that doesn't mean I fully know what it means or why.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.