Laws have lots of power. So, what happens in the United States when those laws need to be changed? In comes an to save the day.
An amendment is a change or fix to something. The noun is used most often when talking about laws or documents. But this wasn’t always the case.
The word “amendment” has Latin roots. The Latin emendare meant “to correct.” That word was a mix of Latin and a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word. The Latin ex meant “out.” And the PIE word mend meant a fault or .
Later on, Old French speakers started to use the word amender. It meant “to make something right.” In the early 1200s, the Middle English word “amenden” popped up. It held the same meaning. Around the same time, people started using the word “amendment.”
In the 1600s, the meaning of “amendment” grew. It now included corrections to laws. In the 1690s and on, people started to use “amendment” to mean changing or adding to a law or a document.
You may know about the amendments to the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution is the set of top laws in the country. The Fifth Article of the Constitution explains the process Congress must follow to make an amendment.
On June 4, 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment. It gave women the right to vote. Before this, only men were allowed to vote. Women worked for almost 100 years to convince lawmakers to make this change. They performed many acts of protest.
The 19th Amendment fixed, or improved, the Constitution. This amendment said no U.S. citizen can be kept from voting because of their gender. In November 1920, 8 million women voted for the first time.
The word “amendment” is often used to talk about laws. But there are other forms of the word too.
“Amend” is also its own word! To amend something means to change it in order to improve it. There’s also the phrase “to make amends.” After people argue, they might “make amends.” That means that they fix their relationship.
The word “mend” can also be found in “amendment.” Mending is the act of fixing an object. This word is used especially in sewing. People have been using the word this way since the 1200s!
Another place “mend” shows up is talking about healing. As early as 1802, the phrase “on the mend” meant that a person was getting better from a sickness or .
What do you think about this amendment to your vocabulary?
Updated June 5, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Hannah Marcum