8 Oldest Words in the English Language

English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years. It is the third most widespread native language in the world, after Standard Chinese and Spanish. It is the most widely learned second language and is either the official language or one of the official languages in almost 60 sovereign states. The vocabulary of English is vast, and counting exactly how many words English has, is impossible. Let’s get back to our main topic ‘Oldest Words in the English Language’.

The oldest words we know of are building block words, reflecting key elements in developing societies across humanity. So, let’s look at some of the oldest words we could find—a linguistic square one. These are the top 8 oldest words you would want to know.


Word 'I'.

Word ‘I’.

The word ‘I’ is the ultimate personal pronoun, referring to oneself. We date this word all the way back to before the year 900, and it makes sense because we’re sure humans needed ways to refer to themselves. Self-identity was and always will be important.

I also refer to your ego, in a metaphysical way.


Word 'Black'.

Word ‘Black’.

‘Black’ is another one of the oldest words in the English language. Black is defined as ‘lacking hue and brightness; absorbing light without reflecting any of the rays composing it’ or ‘the absence of color.’ Before the year 900, a man picked up on the fact that the sun sets every night, and the sky becomes a dark, dim void. This case was where the word ‘Black’ was created.


Word 'Give'.

Word ‘Give’.

The word ‘Give’ was originated before the year 900. Before the year 900, a man learned how to work together, to share. Before we knew it, cooperation was a building block of human society and it still is. When we don’t work or cooperate together, tensions arise and little gets accomplished. The word ‘Give’ is a lesson to remember which was gifted from our ancestors.


Word 'Fire'.

Word ‘Fire’.

The word ‘Fire’ was probably created as a survival instinct back then. Back then, when there was no electricity, people used to rub two sticks together and use to get light, warmth, and a sense of security. This probably helped our ancestors to live longer. The word ‘Fire’ is another building-block word, describing an essential concept.


Word 'Hand'.

Word ‘Hand’.

The word ‘Hand’ is related to the above-mentioned word ‘Fire’. How did people make fire? With their hands! People long ago identified what was at the end of each arm, before the year 900. And, when you predictably burn your hand by holding your dinner over that fire, you need a term to explain what part of your body hurts, too. So this is how the word ‘Hand’ was created.


Word 'Hear'.

Word ‘Hear’.

Back then, people used to go out for hunting for dinner or any other purpose. People needed to be quiet in order to catch your prey, and needed to listen closely where the animal was walking or eating so they could find its location. The word ‘Hear’ was classified before the year 950 in order to enhance human interaction.


Word 'This'.

Word ‘This’.

‘This’ is another one of the oldest words in the English language. ‘This’ is defined as ‘to indicate one of two or more persons, things, etc.’ Before the year 900, people had to find themselves wanting to identify an object that may or may not have had a proper name. So they pointed or gestured to something they wanted, and thus, the word ‘this’ was created.


Word 'Old'.

Word ‘Old’.

The aging process is a fact of life. An aging person or elder is a key member of a community for their wisdom and experience. People picked up on the aging process pretty early on, before the year 900, in order to guess or to describe the elders who they look after to or relied upon for advice. Thus, the word ‘Old’ was created.

There you go, these are the oldest words in the English language. Missed out any oldest words? Let us know in the comment section.


Reference: Dictionary