Word of the day :
The origin of the word ‘cloud’ has been traced back to the 1300s when the usage of Middle English was predominant. The Old English word ‘clud’ means ‘mass of rock, hill’ and gradually evolved as the word ‘cloud’ now used to refer to the visible white clots of evaporated water suspended in the sky.
The word ‘cloud’ is also presumed to be a marriage between the Old English word ‘clud’ and the Modern English word ‘clot’. In bringing these words together, ‘cloud’ holds both the pertinence of natural forces, from ‘clod’ and a description of the visually perceptible aspects of a cloud that make it appear like a randomly put-together lump in the sky, from clot.
The word ‘clud’ is closely related to another word from the same linguistic period: ‘clod’, meaning clay. Considering ‘clud’ as an extension of ‘clod’ leads us to understand a mass of rock or hill (‘clud’) as an accumulation of clay (‘clod’). These shifts in pronunciations and the encroachment of word definitions are a likely result of the Great Vowel Shift. This phenomenon in linguistic history is how the standardisation of spellings came into being and is why spellings often differ from their pronunciations in the English language. For instance, the ea in break and freak are pronounced differently which might seem arbitrary but this ambiguity is the established standard. The Great Vowel Shift was primarily a result of a huge population migrating to the southeast of England from the east and central Midlands following the repercussions of Black Death. Due to the coming together of migrants who actively used a different dialect, Londoners during that time brought about the Vowel Shift which led to establishing standards of pronunciations and spoken language. The focus shifted from using long vowels to making consonantal changes.
Coming back to the etymology of cloud, the recurrence of similar sounding words ‘clud’ and ‘clod’ might cloud your comprehension which takes us to another profound way the word cloud is used today. As a verb ‘cloud’ implies the blurring or distorting of something to reduce clarity. It is a wise exhibit of linguistic imagination in which the concept of a specific natural entity is employed to describe an abstract occurrence.
The visuals of a cloud seem to have a significant impact on its nomenclature. Whether it is the word ‘clot’ mixing up with ‘clud’ to signify the lumpy clouds or the word cloud itself being used as a verb or the employment of the concept of cloud in cloud computing.
Following the digital revolution, nearly all our quotidian functionalities are based on cloud computing, which refers to the on-demand availability of data storage and other computer system resources without the manager actively managing or storing them. These clouds are sets of data stored sporadically in locations that one cannot physically access.
‘Cloud’, as a word, is used as a metaphor for the computing system. The conventional cloud and the new technological cloud are both physically inaccessible but their functionality is central to the natural and digital world respectively.
From this perspective and more, the etymology and evolution of the word cloud make space for an interesting area of linguistic pondering.