Marina Orlova of Hot for Words: Hello my dear students! How many times have you heard a friend justify buying a super-expensive coat or fabulous designer outfit by calling them an "investment," or saying she's "investing in herself"? Laugh all you want, but it might surprise you to know that she's using the word "investment" in the most accurate historical sense!
In old Latin, they combined the word "in" (which means into), with the word "vestire" (which meant "to dress or clothe") to form the word "investire." So the word "investire" meant "to put on the official clothes of a title or office." In other words, you were putting on the ceremonial robes that indicated you had a very important role in society.
It wasn't long before people started borrowing "investire" and using it in a commercial sense. Around 1610, East Indies traders started using the word to mean converting money to property in the hope of making a profit. Over time, the word became "invest," or "investment" in English, and by 1740 was a common part of financial language.
So you see, when you put clothes on you change your form. You look better, and people perceive you as more important. Likewise, when you invest in a company, you make the company look better and more important. So whether it's beautiful designer handbags or a retirement fund, why don't you go ahead and make an investment today?