Some words have their roots in other languages, but others have their roots in a good story that captured the public imagination. The history of “mesmerize,” my language-curious friends, is a case of the latter.
Let me set the stage:
Imagine eighteenth-century Vienna— its grand gardens and palaces, the elegance, grace, and symmetry of Mozart and Beethoven, and the imperial menagerie that would become today’s oldest continually operating zoo in the world. This Vienna was one of the most important political, artistic, and commercial capitals of the era.
In this setting, enter Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer, a physician who proposed a theory of how human and animal bodies react to the gravitational pull of the planets. More