This is a word we’ve all been hearing a lot lately. I was wondering about it’s etymology, and my best guess is that it’ll come down to: a state (-ation) of lost (de-) view/site/area (-vast-). Now I’m going to look it up and see what an idiot I look like.


The Online Etymology Dictionary: mid-15c., from M.Fr. dévastation, from L.L. devastationem (nom. devastatio), from pp. stem of L. devastare “lay waste completely,” from de- “completely” (see de-) + vastare “lay waste,” from vastus “empty, desolate” (see waste).

Ha! Go figure. I guess I could have thought about it harder and come up with “de” meaning “of” and then jumping to “completely”. Naturally, “vast” is in my head as meaning large and wide-spreading… but “waste” makes sense, too.


The Online Etymology Dictionary: 1570s, from M.Fr. vaste, from L. vastus “immense, extensive, huge,” also “desolate, unoccupied, empty.” The two meanings probably originally attached to two separate words, one with a long -a- one with a short -a-, that merged in early Latin (see waste). Very popular early 18c. as an intensifier.

Aren’t words fun? Weeeeee.