Thursday, April 04, 2013


Here's a word to ponder: Disoriented.

Today, we use the word "disoriented" to mean lost, not knowing where one is, or maybe unable to tell right from left or up from down.
But if we think of the prefix, "dis" meaning "not" and the root "-orient" meaning "East",we can think that the earliest meaning of disorientation might have been "not knowing which way is east."

But, today, looking at a map, clearly North is the most important direction.  What happened?

The magnetic compass was discovered around 1000 A.D. and since the  needle points north, it became the new direction for "orientation" and the drawing of maps.

In early history, East must have been the primary direction.  The sun rose there and travelers might re-orient themselves in the morning and figure which way they needed to go