This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
The Latin 'adversitatem', opposition, contrariety. The ultimate root is ad-, to and vertere, to turn. As 'the state or condition of being contrary or opposed' its first uses is in Wyclif's Bible opf 1382. As 'the condition of adverse fortune; a state opposed to well-being or prosperity; misfortune, distress, trial, or affliction' (i.e. today's usual use) it dates to c.1230.ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Jonathon Green