The term “spirit” comes from the Latin word “spiritus,” which means “breath,” “breathing,” “air,” “soul,” or “vital principle.” Here’s a detailed chronological breakdown:

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “* (s)peys-” means “to blow” or “to breathe.”

2. Latin

From the PIE root, the Latin word “spiritus” developed, meaning “breath,” “breathing,” “air,” “soul,” or “vital principle.” It is derived from the verb “spirare,” meaning “to breathe.”

3. Old French (c. 9th to 14th century CE)

The Latin term “spiritus” evolved into Old French “espirit” or “esprit,” meaning “spirit,” “soul,” or “mind.”

4. Middle English (c. 11th to 15th century CE)

The Old French “espirit” was adopted into Middle English as “spirit,” retaining the meanings of “soul,” “vital principle,” “supernatural being,” or “essence.”

5. Modern English (from 15th century CE to present)

The term “spirit” evolved into its current form and pronunciation, referring to the non-physical part of a person regarded as their true self, the vital principle, or a supernatural being. It also encompasses meanings related to mood, disposition, or enthusiasm.

The word “spirit” reflects the concept of the non-material essence of a being, emphasizing the breath of life, vital force, or supernatural elements. It is fundamental to various religious, philosophical, and cultural contexts, signifying the intangible aspects of existence and identity.