May 20, 2009
The fact that the words "candid" and "candidate" share the same roots (the Indo European root word "kand" , that means "to shine" and is also the root for the word "candle") should not come as a surprise. What is interesting though is the reason why the word is used to refer to someone who is seeking a political position. In ancient Rome, by tradition, a person who would run for a political office would wear a white colored toga. This was more symbolic than a rule as it hinted at the purity of the person running for the political position (Ha! you would say, given how we perceive political candidates today, irrespective of our race or nation). So, though candidate is literally translated as "clothed in white", it was borrowed in English to refer to a political-position seeker, thanks to a Roman tradition.