Audio and video are two (apparently XX-century) concepts.

Both take the same form as 1st-person sing., present tense Latin verbs. Wiktionary articles for the English words (audio, video) assert that their etymology actually is that of those verbal forms, and so does (apparently) Etymonline (audio, video).

I could be wrong, but I can't think of any older word derived from Latin in this way. Instead, it reminds me of some initial translation attempts by people with little inflectional background, looking for dictionary entries for verbs, assuming that the verb is its 1st-pers. s. form.

This sounds wrong to me, as I can't see a reason why someone could want to name something an I see recorder, or an I hear wave.

Question: Is there a reason to draw these words from that verbal forms in specific? Or is it just bad Latin from an era when Latin is no longer the language of science?

Bonus fact: I thought the same applied to tango, but it seems to have a different origin.

  • What about studio? Would it come from studeo or from studium?
    – luchonacho
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 10:06

1 Answer 1


The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the O in audio, video and radio comes from the O found in Greek compounds, which was used in scientific vocabulary built from Latin and Greek roots: e.g. audiology or radiometer.

Note that the Etymonline entry for audio actually seems to say the same thing:

abstracted from word-forming element audio- (q.v.), which is from Latin audire "to hear"

  • Hmm, so the OED suggests it's mixed etymology (Latin-Greek), just as television, which is arguably bad, but not as bad as I thought. But then again, is Etymonline not to be trusted?
    – Rafael
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 20:51
  • 6
    OED is a serious scholarly work. Etymonline is a paste job.
    – fdb
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 22:06
  • 1
    @fdb I don't doubt OED either. I just wondered whether the 1st. p. s. could still be a valid competing theory
    – Rafael
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 22:23
  • 1
    @Rafael no, the 1SG hypothesis cannot be competing or valid.
    – Alex B.
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 20:09

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