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What is an asset?

"Asset" got its start as a legal term, meaning enough physical property to cover any debts.

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Marina Orlova of Hot for Words: Hello my dear students! Today we're going to talk about the word "asset." Of course, as you all know, my best asset is ... my mind, and more specifically, my ability to understand language and make it fun and exciting for you all. So let me put this asset to use and explore the origin of the word.

In the eleventh century, the Latin prefix "ad" (which means "to") was combined with "satis" (which means "enough") to form the Old French noun "Assez." "Assez" meant "sufficiency, satisfaction or compensation." It started as a legal term, meaning enough physical property to cover any possible debts.

In the 1530s the Old French noun evolved into the Anglo-French word "asetz." It passed into more general use by the 1580s, and took on the meaning of "any kind of property that can be converted to money." Of course, both of these terms are very close to the English word "assets." So today, an asset can be anything you can sell and turn into cash if you need money to pay a debt, like a car or a house.

And, as I showed you before, you can also use the word a little less literally. For example, if my best asset is my mind, it means I can use my mind to create enough money to pay for my expenses.

Now, for your homework, tell me what you best asset is. Your car? Your house? Or something else ... maybe your smile?

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