What does this Greek word mean and where did it come from?

What does the Greek word “charax” mean and what is its word origin? I’ve heard that it means “a pale or stake, a palisade,” but I’ve also heard it means “sharpen to a point” or “stick into”. My searches on google have yielded all three definitions. So, which one is it?

This site shows the origin of the word.

But why can’t it mean two different but related things? Do you have any idea how many words do that in English? :eek:

There’s no reason it can’t been two different things, so if my question left you with the impression it can only mean one thing, then I’m sorry.

So, how are they the meanings related exactly?

Well, a palisade is usually described as a “wall of pointed sticks or logs,” so it isn’t too far of a stretch to associate the act of sharpening to a point with the resultant wall made with said pointy things. And if you attempt to crawl over the palisade, then meaning number three kicks in, ie “to stick into.” :smiley:

In English, pale has an analogous set of meanings. In addition to the separate meaning of “to lack color,” pale can either mean a sharpened stick or a series of sharpened sticks arranged as a fence or barrier (and, with the prefix im-, becomes a verb to shove a sharp stick (or pale) through someone).

And it’s from here that we get the expression ‘beyond the pale’ or ‘outside a boundry formed by pointed sticks (or a fence!)’. Normally in reference to the Irish pale which was a boundry formed roughly around the present county of Dublin.

‘Beyond the pale’ meant leaving English controlled lands and heading of into the wild :slight_smile:

Pole and impale are also words that come from the latin sord ‘palus’ or ‘a stake’.