“Egalitarian” [Devil’s Derivations/Etymologies from Hell #5] by Dr. Burgess

“Egalitarian”
“Egalitarian” was originally a term of ridicule employed by a capitalist who accused his socialist opponent of “consuming the eagles soaring above the herd.” This word, meaning originally “those who eat eagles,” was coined by analogy with “vegetarian,”* meaning “those who eat primarily vegetables and avoid eating animals.” Undergoing a type of transformation common in the history of languages, “egalitarian” became a word with positive connotations thanks to social changes and its fortuitous similarity to “equalitarian”.

*Some might suggest that “aquilavore”—“Aquila” + “vor[are]e,” modeled on “carnivore” and “omnivore”—would have been a more appropriate term than “egalitarian.” “Vegetarian,” the word on which “egalitarian” is based, raises an interesting question: “If vegetarians eat primarily vegetables, why don’t humanitarians eat humans?”

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