3. Use of the Word "Energy"
"Energy" is a word
with a precise meaning, at least when used in a scientific context,
but this was not always so.
Thomas Young (1773-1829) first used "energy" in the modern scientific
sense in 1807 to denote what we now call kinetic energy. Young was
a pioneer of the physics of light (he also deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics
using the Rosetta stone). Young did not coin the word; he merely
adopted a term with a long history in the English language. Starting
in the 1580s writers used "energy" to describe a vigorous use of
speech or writing. It was borrowed from the Latin and Greek words
Over the years, everyday use of the word "energy" came
to mean any exercise of power or activity, whether of body, language,
or thought. After 1807, when scientists adopted the term "energy,"
new discoveries called for new terms. The phrase "potential energy"
first appeared in the 1850s, followed by "mechanical," "chemical,"
"electrical," and finally "atomic" energy.