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Let’s Untangle a Flaky Television Etymology

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The creepy, dystopian, and weirdly wonderful TV series Severance offers a teachable moment in the form of a false etymology in a flaky self-help book by one of the characters. The book suggests that the word camaraderie derives from the type of a camera used to take photos, ideally photos of happy friends together. In reality, camaraderie goes back to the Latin word camera, or “room,” which gave rise to French camarade, “someone who shares a room,” and ultimately “a friend” or comrade. The English word for the photographic device, camera, is a shortening of an earlier Latin term, camera obscura, “literally, dark room,” the name for a kind of box with a lens that was used to project images on a wall for hundreds of years before photographs came along. This is part of a complete episode.

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