Morbido

I come across the word morbido in my Italian comic-book reading now and then, and I can never remember what it means. The only thing I ever remember is that it’s quite different from morbid in English.

It means soft or tender, and every time I refreshed my memory about what it means, I wonder what the connection between morbid and morbido could be.  This time, I decided to look it up.

The words’ similarity made me sure that there is a link between the two, and indeed, both are derived from the Latin morbidus (diseased). The first syllable is derived from mori (to die), with the idea being that one looks like death when sick.

It’s not such a leap to the meaning of morbid, referring to unhealthy interests, particularly in death, disease, or other depressing subjects. And morbido? It evolved from the idea of the weakness caused by sickness, to refer more specifically to softness or tenderness.

Same basic idea at the beginning then, but two very different directions to take. An interesting case of divergent evolution.

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