[Wiktionary :] From Proto-Indo-European *ster- ‎(“stiff”). [...]

Etymonline's entry for 'strenuous' (adj.) references Etymonline's entry for 'stern' (adj.) which states the same PIE root as above.

Why was 'strēnuus' assigned to the PIE root *ster- ‎(“stiff”)? Univ. Texas states its Semantic Field as 'Strong, Mighty, Powerful; Hard', but this still does not explain the Latin adjective's definitions of 'brisk, nimble, quick, prompt, active'.

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My understanding is that strenuus means 'stiff' or 'rigid' in the sense of 'willing to stay by one's duty' or even 'stubborn in doing what one does'. This kind of stiffness implies willingness and ability to do (hard) work. From this point of view swiftness is a part of being strenuus, but 'quick' and such meanings seem secondary while the primary meaning is closer to 'devoted (to work)'. While I have nothing to back this up with, this is how I have always thought about strenuus and it makes perfect sense with the proposed PIE root.


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