Genie, genius,engineer, jinn: What do they mean?

mid 17th century (denoting a guardian or protective spirit): from French génie, from Latingenius (see genius). Génie was adopted in the current sense by the 18th-century French translators of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, because of its resemblance in form and sense to Arabic jinnī ‘jinni.’

Lexical Investigations: Genius

genius, einstein, john milton, apple genius barWhen did people shift from having a genius to being agenius? Starting in the 14th century, a genius denoted a guardian spirit, and someone with extraordinary talent was said to have a genius, because his or her gift was thought to be the result of some supernatural help. For example, in a treatise on epic poetry from 1695, the author offers, “That Milton had a Genius equal to Spencer’s…” This sense comes from the Latin gignere, which means “to produce,” and it lives on in our vocabulary with genies.

In the mid-1600s, however, the meaning began to shift, and people began to call someone with natural ability a genius, someone with an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, not necessarily just a gift from a supernatural friend. An early record of this usage is in John Milton’s Eikonoclastes when he writes, “to unsettle the conscience of any knowing Christian, if he could ever aim at a thing so hopeless, and above the genius of his Cleric Elocution.” By the end of the 17th century, this usage was common, as in this essay from a 1693 edition of The Bee: “…if your mind is delighted with the genuine touches of nature, which constitutes the true test of genius in poetical composition.” This may also have been caused by some confusion with the Latin root ingenium, meaning “inborn qualities,” and which gives us words like “ingenious” and “engine.”

According to Google nGram, genius peaked in usage in the late 1700s and has been declining steadily since.

from Arabic jinnī, plural jinn .

The Jinn

PREPARE NOW to undertake a journey upon the wings of scientific vision into the ancient past to explore the nature and identity of the jinn. The Quranic concept of jinn has been briefly discussed before in Life in the Perspective of Quranic Revelations. Arabic lexicon mentions the following as the possible meanings of the word jinn. It literally means anything which has the connotation of concealment, invisibility, seclusion and remoteness. It also has the connotation of thick shades and dark shadows. That is why the word ‘jannah‘ (from the same root word) is employed by the Quran to denote paradise, which would be full of thick, heavily shaded gardens. The word jinn is also applicable to snakes which habitually remain hidden from common view and live a life secluded from other animals in rock crevices and earthen holes. It is also applied to women who observe segregation and to such chieftains as keep their distance from the common people. The inhabitants of remote, inaccessible mountains are likewise referred to as jinn. Hence, anything which lies beyond the reach of common sight or is invisible to the unaided naked eye, could well be described by this word.

Paarsurrey says:

It becomes very clear that Quran uses in chapter [72:2] and the context verses the word “jinn” as strangers who had come from far off lands for ascertaining truth in the claim of Muhammad being a prophet as mentioned/prophesied in Torah.



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