Today I found out ‘peruse’ doesn’t mean what many people think it means.
It turns out, “peruse” does not mean “to skim” or “to glance through” or “read quickly” or the like, as it is often used. It actually means quite the opposite of that, meaning “to read thoroughly or carefully” or “examine carefully at great length”.
This meaning comes from the commonly accepted origin of “peruse”, which was from the combination of the words “per” and “use”; this literally translates from the compounded Latin and French words to “use thoroughly”. This then eventually morphed to meaning more like “survey thoroughly” and today more meaning “survey text thoroughly”.
- An alternate theory to the origins of peruse was presented by Webster. He suggested that peruse came from the misreading of the old word “pervise” as “peruise”. However, there is no direct evidence that this is the case and the more commonly accepted origin is the “per” + “use” combination as stated above.
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