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Origin of Important or Importance

A word that is in common use in English-speaking countries is ‘important’ and another that is closely related is ‘importance’. The word or words have been in use since the 1540s and people might wonder where the word came from.

Importance means “something of significance” or “of significant consequence” and the root word is import. In turn, ‘import’ is from the Latin word importare, which means “to convey or bring in“. “Portare” means “to carry“.

The prefix “im–” means “in” or “into“. Thus, by the 1580s, “important” meant “that which is imported, brought in, or carried.” This is something that makes the word rather interesting. It means that oil that the US gets from Canada or Mexico is literally important to the US, specifically because it is imported. The oil that the US ships to other countries is not important to the US because it is exported and not imported, but it is important to those other countries.

This is based entirely on the origin of “important” and its actual meaning, but it is something that most people don’t think about at all since they don’t know the origin and actual meaning behind the word.

  • Did you know that “Important” actually means “that which is imported”?

    • Yes
    • No
    • It makes sense


What do you think?

11 Points

Written by Rex Trulove


    • I agree with that. A lot of the imports we get here from China amount to what I call “fluff”; nice to have but nearly worthless in a practical sense. For that matter, though the US does import a lot of oil, it isn’t important because the US has the reserves and means to produce our own oil for the next century at current consumption rates.

      • I would like to hope that the consumption of oil worldwide goes rapidly downhill over the coming years, with as much of it as possible staying in the ground, along with coal and shale gas.

        • That might happen if more nuclear power plants are built and the price of electricity drops. Until that happens, it probably won’t waver much and might increase. The biggest issue is expense. Other sources of power can be developed and exploited, but they tend to be far more expensive than using fossil fuels.