Origin of diplomatic
The Latin adjective is derived from diplōmat-, the inflectional stem of diplōma, which has several technical meanings: “an official letter of recommendation; a certificate or license granting a privilege; a folded tablet or paper carrying an official’s instructions to allow the bearer to have free passage and assistance.”
The journey from an adjective relating to the science of analyzing documents (which in English is known as diplomatics ) to one pertaining to the art of international relations ( diplomacy ) is a fascinating one. Díplōma is a derivative of the verb diploûn “to repeat, multiply by two, repay twofold.” Diploûn is a compound of the prefix di- “two, twice, double,” a variant of the adverb dís “twice.” The original Greek word díplōma from which the Latin diplōmaticus comes meant “a piece of paper folded in two,” and in Roman imperial times, “an order allowing the bearer to use the imperial transportation system; a passport.”
Diploma in English retains the sense of a piece of paper, one that we receive (often rolled, not folded) when we graduate, formally granting an academic degree. A less well-known sense of diploma is “a public or official document.” The earliest meanings of diplomatic in English referred first to the scientific analysis of these documents, then to the documents themselves, and, at a tempestuous historical moment, the word becomes forever associated with the activities surrounding the documents.
In the 18th century, French writer and historian Jean Dumont published Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens, containing the original texts of the treaties of Alliance, of Peace, and of Commerce, from the Peace of Munster to 1709. This was a collection of documents as the title indicates, and the term corps diplomatique at first referred to the body of documents but over time underwent a meaning transfer to the subject matter of the documents themselves, international relations.
By 1789, we can find the term used in English but with the French spelling diplomatique. Edmund Burke, in his best-selling Reflections on the Revolution in France, popularizes the shift by using corps diplomatique in this novel way: “The Prussian ministers in foreign courts have … talked the most democratick language …. The whole corps diplomatique, with very few exceptions, leans that way.” Here, the term is applied to the ambassadors and officials making up the diplomatic body, that is, the group of ministers engaged in diplomacy and international relations (and not the body of documents collecting itself into piles to be examined). Soon after, the French spelling is dropped in favor of the Anglicized diplomatic, but the French connection remains.
Examples from the Web for diplomatic
Fred Logevall at Cornell won the Pulitzer Prize and is a diplomatic historian; he just started a book on Kennedy.
Right now it looks like the diplomatic equivalent of one hand clapping.
President Obama defends his decision to normalize ties with Cuba and defends his diplomatic record.
Given the potential for a cyber tit-for-tat to escalate, Obama has even more incentive to find a diplomatic solution.
Lastly, the re-opening of diplomatic ties between Havana and Washington gives Brazil a chance to push for changes in Cuba.Venezuela Says Goodbye to Its Lil Friend, While the Rest of the Continent Cheers|Catalina Lobo-Guererro|December 20, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Van Buren discreetly lightened up some of the diplomatic pages with passages very agreeable to Jackson.Martin Van Buren|Edward M. Shepard
The trenches in diplomatic warfare must be manned by regular trenchermen.
The chief thing to do during these years is to be diplomatic and avoid disputes if it is possible.Manual of the Enumeration|C. J. Coffman
But he got in some smug reminders of the severance of diplomatic relations with the Vatican.War and the Future|H. G. Wells
The affairs of the island appear again and again in diplomatic correspondence and in presidential messages.Cuba, Old and New|Albert Gardner Robinson