Today is Veterans' day.

Look up the etymology:

c. 1500, "old experienced soldier," from French vétéran, from Latin veteranus... from vetus (genitive veteris) "old, aged, advanced in years; of a former time," as a plural noun, vetores, "men of old, forefathers," from PIE *wet-es-, from root *wet- (2) "year" (source also of Sanskrit vatsa- "year," Greek etos "year," Hittite witish "year," Old Church Slavonic vetuchu "old," Old Lithuanian vetušas "old, aged;" and compare wether).

Vetus has no similarities with old or aged.

How could remember the word?

  • What do you mean by "no similarities"? The entry you drew from does not say that it shares etymological roots with "old" or "aged". What do you mean by "How to remember" and "How could remember"? Do you mean "How can one account for"? Or are you asking for a mnemonic for memorizing the word or its meaning? – Jacob C. supports GoFundMonica Nov 19 at 0:45

Looking at the root meaning of a word may give you some idea of past use, but language evolves, so don't expect it always to make things clearer.

In this case though, it seems perfectly understandable. The root meaning of 'veteran' means 'old', and with age comes experience. Maybe you've heard the expression 'an old hand', meaning someone who has considerable experience of something.

You can be a veteran of anything, but a war veteran is the word's most common use, and so is often used in isolation. When you hear someone is a "veteran", one tends to assume they are a war veteran.

I don't know if that will help you remember the word, but hopefully goes some way to explaining it.

Maybe this poem will help:

I come from the Latin veteranus
which you'll know if you're no ignoramus
Those Romans knew that age means knowledge,
the kind you can't learn in a college
Experience of something, often extensive,
in this case, it can make one quite pensive
A 'veteran' or 'vet' is a veteran of war
and their experience, the horrors that they saw.

  • 2
    I understand your intent, but I regard the word "veteran" without a qualifier as military veteran, which may or may not be the same as war veteran. It is possible to have served in the military without that service being during a period of war nor involving combat duties. The person who served is still a veteran. – cobaltduck Nov 11 at 21:07
  • @cobaltduck I understand your intent too, but the question wasn't about the difference between a military veteran and a war veteran - just why we use the word veteran. I did assume that it was about war veterans, but that's because I'm British English, and we don't have "veterans day" - the 11th November is Remembrance Day and it is entirely about remembering the fallen in wars. – Astralbee Nov 12 at 11:09
  • In the US we have Memorial Day for fallen war veterans, and Veteran's Day is simply for appreciation of our active duty military and veterans. – ColleenV parted ways Nov 12 at 13:11

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