Hodie is a Latin adverb meaning "today" or "at the present time". I am rather curious as to how this word developed.

Was it originally a compound of hōc and diē, which would be translated as "on this day"? That's the only theory I have so far; are there perhaps any definitive pieces of evidence on this topic?

  • I have been researching an interesting structure that was designed so sunlight highlights architectural features thru out the year The process leads you to the word Hodie which is circled by light 4 times a year on cross quarters I have come to the conclusion that the use of Hodie on this 1674 tombstone denotes the concept of Now , this moment in eternity Today is not a sufficient translation To day shows a passage in time Into the present. Hodie is an instance in time in your existence Not past present or future Sorry perhaps not a great explanation – john Oct 20 '18 at 23:05
  • This is wonderful. This explains Luke 23:43 ("on this day", meaning "when Jesus will return for the rapture of His church") See Luke 23:42 first. And, in Septuaginta, in Isaias 10:32, the word "in this or that day" (semeron, in Greek), used too in future. – MARCIO ANTONIO TORRES BUENO Mar 9 at 17:35

As is often the case with things that seem obvious, the explanation of hodiē as a contraction of hōc + diē is actually problematic and hotly contested. One theory is that it is from the bare stem *ho-. Another that is from the old abl. sing. *hōd *diēd (with secondary shift of -ōdd- to -od-). The former seems to me more straightforward.

PS. Lewis and Short (1879) is hardly the last word on Latin etymology.

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    One fragment from Varro (yes, not to be wholly trusted for his etymological scholarship) has "cum hodie dicimus, nihil aliud quam hoc die intelligitur." Given that this is the "obvious" etymology, could you explain why exactly this is considered problematic? – brianpck Feb 6 '17 at 14:58
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    @brianpck. It would involve the development of -ōcd- to -ŏd-. I do not think there is any parallel for this. – fdb Feb 6 '17 at 16:20
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    Pg. 23 of this article argues for this etymology. Also: how does this explain the parallel terms pridie and postridie? – brianpck Feb 6 '17 at 16:54
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    @Alex B.I also wonder why it was deleted. Never mind 'hotly', why on Earth should the origin of hodie be contested at all? The simple explanation can be applied not only in Latin (and English) but in the Russian сегодня, German heute, and, no doubt, in others too. – Tom Cotton Feb 6 '17 at 17:19
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    @TomCotton. Nobody is denying that "hodie" means "this day". The issue is only the case form (nominative, ablative, locative, bare root?) of the first component, and the mysterious disappearance of any consonants at the end of the first component. – fdb Feb 6 '17 at 19:43

As the other answer was deleted, I'll post the traditional explanation here.

The simplest explanation is exactly as you suggested: hōc "this" + diē "day", in the ablative of time-when. This is what my old Latin textbook said, as well as Lewis and Short's dictionary:

hŏdĭē, adv. contr. from hoc die, on this day

Very similar derivations have happened in other languages:

  • English "today" < Old English "at" + "day"
  • German heute "today" < Old High German *hiu tagu "this day" (cf Tag)
  • Dutch vandaag "today" < van "of" + daag "day"
  • Attic Greek τήμερον "today" < *kyā- "this" (possibly the root of Latin cis) + ἡμέρα "day"

And Latin has similar words:

  • prīdiē "on the day before" < Old Latin pri "before" (root of prior) + diē
  • postrīdiē "on the day after" < posterō + diē

In comments on the other answer, brianpck provided some additional evidence. A fragment of Varro (number 11 here) mentions:

...et cum hodie dicimus, nihil aliud quam hoc die intelligitur.

(My translation:)

...and when we say "today", no other meaning except "on this day" is understood.

For a more modern and scholarly source, who probably did significantly more research than Varro, this article argues for the same etymology.

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    1907 is hardly "modern". Anyway, as I said above: Nobody is denying that "hodie" means "this day". The issue is only the case form (nominative, ablative, locative, bare root?) of the first component, and the mysterious disappearance of any consonants at the end of the first component. – fdb Feb 6 '17 at 19:45
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    Ancient etymologies like Varro's aren't evidence for anything except ancient beliefs about etymology (which are no more reliable than their beliefs about any other science). – TKR Feb 6 '17 at 22:22
  • I don't disagree; folk etymology is amusing but fairly useless. Just wanted to bring up the other common explanation with what evidence I've seen for it, which happens to not be very much: I have no good explanation for od < ōcd either. (And it's significantly less clear than the derivation of any of those other words.) – Draconis Feb 6 '17 at 22:41

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