Learning a new language is arguably the best way to broaden your horizons if you are looking at any kind of job dealing with public service or global politics. Interpersonal relationships between countries and governments are greatly improved when people are able to communicate clearly, and if you learn a language that is rarely spoken or known, you make yourself invaluable to your employer. However, learning a language can be difficult because it can be hard to keep track of all the rules that different languages follow in their grammar.
English is considered one of the most notorious languages for keeping track of which rules are common and which rules are broken often. People who learn English as a second or even third language struggle to remember spellings, verb tenses, singular and plural subject/verb agreements, and several other common grammar mistakes. Because of the number of irregular forms that exist in English, memorizing the proper usage of different words can seem incredibly daunting.
In this article, let’s explore our word of the day, “echo,” learn its proper use, how to create its plural forms, look for its synonyms, and learn its etymology and context.
Your writing, at its best
Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant
To first understand a word, its history, and how to use it properly, it is important to first define what it actually means. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition of echo is “the repetition of a sound caused by reflection of sound waves” or “the sound due to such reflection.” Some secondary definitions include “a repetition or imitation of another” and “one who closely imitates or repeats another’s words, ideas, or acts.” In total, there are ten definitions of the word echo that are commonly accepted in conversation or writing.
The thing that makes the English language so difficult to learn is the fact that it so often breaks its own rules. For example, in creating the past tense of verbs, you typically add “-d” or “-ed” to create the past tense. However, several words actually break this rule and create their own irregular past tenses. For example, the verb “to run” does not add a suffix; instead, it completely changes its spelling.
This is the case with nouns very often as well. While most nouns just add “-s” or “-es” to create a plural form from the singular form, the plural of some nouns is irregular and involves changing spellings.
The word echo is special because it has more than one plural form. The two commonly accepted forms of the plural of echo are “echos” and “echoes.”
What Is the Meaning of Echos?
Like the full definition above, an echo is the repetition or mimicking of a certain sound that happens when sound waves bounce off of reflecting surfaces and resound the sound, as in an echo chamber. However, it is important to note that the word echo can actually be a noun or a verb, which puts it in a rare class of words in English that fulfill both of these parts of speech.
The noun echo can also be used to refer to a musical phrase.
In the verb sense, the word echo just means to repeat or imitate, or to reinstate in support of something.
It is also commonly used in compound words, like echocardiogram.
How Do You Spell Echos?
The plural of the word echos can be spelled in two separate ways: echos and echoes. Technically, both are correct, but the more common spelling is the word echoes with the added letter e. This is true of both British and American English. The “correct” spelling of any word, at the end of the day, comes down to what is commonly accepted, and plurals can become especially tricky when the noun ends not in a consonant but in “oes.” The more that people use a specific word, a specific pronunciation, or a specific spelling, the more normalized it becomes. This is because language is driven by culture, not the other way around.
The History and Origin of the Word
One of the best ways to understand a word is to learn where it came from. A word’s etymology can reveal a lot about the changes a word has gone through to get to where it is today in modern English. According to EtymOnline.com, the word echo was first introduced to the English language in the middle of the fourteenth century and was derived from the Latin word echo, which was in turn derived from the Greek ēkhō as well, which was actually originally personified in classical mythology as a mountain nymph who pined away for love of Narcissus until nothing was left of her but her voice. She was a character from Greek mythology, and now she is immortalized in the use of the word echo. It then became the Middle English ecco.
It should be no surprise that the word echo has roots in ancient languages; the majority of English actually originates in languages such as Latin or Greek.
The English form is quite similar to the word in other languages as well, including the Norwegian ekko.
Examples of the Word in Context
Another great way to learn how to use a word is to explore the word being used correctly. Either reading the word in its proper context or hearing someone else use it in conversation. Here are some common examples of the word echo (and its plural, echoes) in context:
“Do you hear that echo of footsteps? It really makes the haunted house even spookier.”
“If you go to the Grand Canyon and stand somewhere, the sides of the canyon are really close, you can sing, and the echoes of your own voice will travel for miles.”
“The acoustics really make the music that much better; the fact that the sound can echo like that really brings out the original beauty.”
Synonyms for Echo
Finally, to really solidify a word into your vocabulary, it is useful to explore words with similar or same definitions. The more words you know that can fit into a specific context, the easier it will be to remember which ones to use. Here are some synonyms from the thesaurus for the word echo:
Reverberation is a fancy word to describe echoes
Reflection is a word that describes what the sound waves do when an echo is produced
Resounding is an adjective that describes what kind of sound an echo makes
Kevin Miller is a growth marketer with an extensive background in Search Engine Optimization, paid acquisition and email marketing. He is also an online editor and writer based out of Los Angeles, CA. He studied at Georgetown University, worked at Google and became infatuated with English Grammar and for years has been diving into the language, demystifying the do's and don'ts for all who share the same passion! He can be found online here.