It is the story of everyone.
The word History is not based on Him or Her!
Is hernia a female problem?
When the word history was first used (by the late 1300s), it could
mean any kind of recounting—true or false. A history could be
false, and still be a history. So let’s take a look at the history, both
true and false, of the word history (which I would like to call historysquared
or meta-history, except for the fact that we are looking at
the word and not the study).
We’ve all heard of herstory, a clever but perhaps overused play on
word. The word in question is, of course history, regenderized for a
feminist twist. Many if not most people who use herstory know that
the his in history is not the complement of hers; they’re simply
employing the same sort of wordplay that has given us such
frequent and less-serious constructions as hersterectomy,
himnia/hisnia, womenopause and womenstruation, and galnocologist.
On the other hand, others promote the folk etymology that history
compounds his and story seriously, whether or not they actually
believe it. I like what I spotted on a blog entry about the word: “It
should be history . . . for reasons of historiography (or, if you will—
though I hope you won’t—herstoriography: but can anyone say
herstoriography with a straight face?).”
The truth is that history traces back through Latin as historia,
which was borrowed from the Greek word meaning “narrative,
recounting, or something learned by inquiring.”
So you can see that there’s no maleness to the word, despite the
masculine disguise of the syllable his . . . though let’s be true to the
word history by learning something else by inquiring. If we take an
additional step back, we find that the Greek historia is derived from
the word histor, which had such meanings as “knowledge,” “learning,”
and . . . um . . .“wise man.” So, the wise man told . . . his story.