Word Origin & History
late 14c. (ardently is attested from mid-14c.), from O.Fr. ardant (13c.), from L. ardentem (nom. ardens), prp. of ardere "to burn," from PIE base *as- "to burn, glow" (cf. Skt. asah "ashes, dust;" Armenian azazem "I dry up;" Gk. azein "to dry up, parch;" Goth. azgo, O.E. æsce "ashes;" L. ardus
"parched, dry"). The fig. sense (of passions, desire, etc.) was earliest in Eng.; literal sense of "burning, parching" (mid-15c.) remains rare. Ardent spirits (1471) "strong alcoholic liquor" so called because they are inflammable, but the term now, if used at all, probably is felt in the figurative sense.