Word Origin & History
late 14c., from O.Fr. superstitieux, from L. superstitiosus, from superstitionem (nom. superstitio) "prophecy, soothsaying, excessive fear of the gods," perhaps originally "state of religious exaltation," related to superstes (gen. superstitis) "standing over or above," also "standing by, surviving,"
from superstare "stand on or over, survive," from super "above" (see super-
) + stare "to stand," from PIE base *sta- "to stand" (see stet
). There are many theories for the L. sense development, but none has yet triumphed. Superstition is attested from 1402. In Eng., originally especially of religion; sense of "unreasonable notion" is from 1794.