|Authored by: IANALitj on Thursday, May 23 2013 @ 08:46 PM EDT|
|The word fast means both stationary and moving quickly. Both meanings come from|
the same source, as usage has changed over time.
The origins are in Old English, with various cognates in other ancient
languages. The word meant fixed in place. We have the same concept in the
familiar modern verb fasten. But the word fast also retains its old meaning, as
in the phrases hold fast and stand fast.
The meanings progressed, from the meaning of fixed in place, to held with a firm
grip, to close proximity in space or time. From this idea of proximity in time,
the word took on the meaning "immediately" or in quick succession.
From there, it was a small step to quickly, and another small step to rapidly.
A fast racehorse is anything but stationary.
There are a number of English words that have opposite senses of different
origins (e.g. cleave: to stick closely together or to split apart). Not so the
opposite meanings of fast.
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