Post 1945 World History
A. Definition of “World”
O.E. woruld, worold "human existence, the affairs of life," also "the human
race, mankind," a word peculiar to Gmc. languages (cf. O.S. werold,
O.Fris. warld, Du. wereld, O.N. verold, O.H.G. weralt, Ger. Welt), with
a literal sense of "age of man," from P.Gmc. *wer "man" (O.E. wer,
still in werewolf; see
) + *ald "age" (see
). Originally "life on
earth, this world (as opposed to the afterlife)," sense extended to "the
known world" (e.g. "Greatest Show on Earth"), then to "the physical
world in the broadest sense, the universe" (c.1200). In O.E. gospels,
the commonest word for "the physical world," was Middangeard (O.N.
Midgard), lit. "the middle enclosure" (cf. yard), which is rooted in Gmc.
cosmology. Gk. kosmos in its ecclesiastical sense of "world of people"
sometimes was rendered in Goth. as manaseþs, lit. "seed of man."
The usual O.N. word was heimr, lit. "abode" (see home). Words for
"world" in some other I.E. languages derive from the root for "bottom,
foundation" (cf. Ir. domun, O.C.S. duno, related to Eng. deep); the
Lith. word is pasaulis, from pa- "under" + saule "sun." Original sense
in world without end, translating L. sæcula sæculorum, and in
L. sæculum can mean both "age" and "world," as can Gk. aion.