Derivation of the word introvert

Reading Time: 3 minutes

OK, so we know what an introvert is (well, I hope we do – but see later). What interested me is where the word comes from (maybe that’s me being introverted and geeky?). I kept thinking intro (into) and vert (green), but I didn’t really think introverts all become like the incredible hulk! OK, I’m in a frivolous mood this week!

The hulk - turning green

Derivation of the word introvert

It turns out the word introvert comes from two words:

  • intro which in Latin is inward
  • vertere which in latin is turning or ‘to turn’

Disappointing then that it’s not about turning green. Obviously the introvert’s superpowers were never thought of when the name was created. But read on for the introvert’s superpowers (after some more geeky words stuff).

Correct spelling of extrovert or extravert?

It would appear that extrovert is the common spelling, especially in America. However extravert is often used as the correct spelling in more technical psychology books. Linking back to the word derivation for a moment, it makes sense that the original spelling would be extravert as extra is to outwards in Latin (so extravert would be turning outwards, the opposite of introvert).

Correct spelling intravert or introvert?

Is introvert or intravert the correct spelling? Everywhere I look says introvert, although some people talk about intraverts. Let’s return to the Latin again. The prefix intra means within or inside a group, where intro meas inward. So it makes more sense (to me) that the correct spelling is introvert.

Introvert’s superpowers?

There are some things that introverts are superb at. I often call them introvert’s superpowers, as they are things the introvert does without thinking (but might not tell anybody else):

  • Listening: Introverts tend to be better at details and part of the detail is what’s being said (and what’s NOT being said). This is also because we’re not sitting in discussions trying to speak all the time. So, sit back, listen and then work out where you can add value (see next two points)
  • Being able to ask brilliant questions: This is linked to our ability to listen, and can allow us to add real value into discussions. Many discussions keep going in circles because there are one or two things that are not being asked. Our listening superpower make us able to know, and ask, those powerful questions. It’s something that nearly always adds value and is recognised by others.
  • Being great at summarising: This too is probably because we listen well, but it puts us in a great place to summarise discussions/ debates/ meetings, so that people feel included and can move the debate on. This can be really useful when a discussion is “stuck”
  • Friends: When I was told we tend to have deep friendships, I got excited as I thought it referred to Scuba Diving (my all encompassing hobby). But my research shows that we introverts may have fewer friends, but they tend to be much deeper.
  • Observation: We tend to readily notice things around us. That may be boring things like the change in the position of the clock on the wall, or more useful things like how people are reacting to what others are saying.

Finally, a promise

I promise to focus more next week, I am being very geeky (maybe it’s a Friday afternoon)

Please help.

I would really appreciate three minutes of your time to understand your views of extroversion, introversion and how (if?) they affect performance in business. 

What are your views? Take the 3 minute survey.

This article is tagged as follows, click on one of these tags to read other ideas on the same subject.