On the origin of “economics”

“Which modern day subject of study derives its name from the ancient Greek word ‘oikonomia‘ meaning the ‘the rules or management of a household’?” This was a question that I encountered in one of the quizzes that I was participating in, way back in high school. Although, economics had been formally introduced to us as a subject but I was completely unaware of the etymology of the word ‘economics’.

The term ‘oikonomia’, which is credited to be the origin of the word ‘economics’, and its other derivatives have found mention in the works of Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle. These references date back to the second and third century BC and provide a vague background to the origin of the term. It was first used in its current form in 1792 according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The subject matter, however, got streamlined only after the ‘father of economics’, Adam Smith, published his treatise “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” in 1776. His work laid the foundation for the development of the modern economic theory. Since then a lot of ideas and thoughts have contributed towards making economics what it is today.


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