Origin of the word
Appearing circa 1300, the verb convert is derived from the Latin ‘convertere’ and Vulgar Latin ‘convertire’ via Old French ‘convertir’. It was used to mean ‘to transform or turn around’, with ‘veretere’ meaning ‘to turn, to bend’. Originally, it was used in the religious sense when denoting a person that had decided to commit themselves to a particular religious doctrine, often renouncing their previously held beliefs aligned with a different faith. In Old English, the words ‘cierran’ and ‘gecyrren’ have a similar meaning ‘to turn or return’. In modern usage, convert is a word that is typically associated with actions such as the conversion of a try in rugby or converting files on a computer to a different format.
The noun convert emerged as ‘convers’ in the 14th century and became convert in the 1560s. It is directly connected to the verb.
Related words: conversion, converter, convertible, converting.
“Initiative to convert CO2 into solid carbonates aims to produce building materials on commercial scale by 2020.” Guardian. 27 August 2017: Australian firm unveils plan to convert carbon emissions into ‘green’ concrete.
“Christians working in Greece’s most notorious asylum detention centre have tried to convert some of the Muslim detainees, who have been held under the terms of the EU-Turkey migration deal.” Guardian. 2 August 2016: Aid workers accused of trying to convert Muslim refugees at Greek camp.
“After scoring a try, the attacking team are awarded the opportunity to have a free kick at the goal. This is called a ‘conversion’. The ‘conversion’ kick is taken from a point between the two sets of posts directly in line with where the ball touched the ground for the try. The ball may be any distance away from the posts as long as it is along that line. Kicking the ball between the two upright posts makes a ‘converted try’ and brings an additional two points.” Rugby Union Rules. 2017: Rules of Rugby.
“Within two years the reluctant convert admitted that Jesus Christ is the son of God – God Incarnate.” C. S. Lewis Institute. Lyle Dorsett. C. S. Lewis: A Profile of His Life.
1. to change from one system, use or method to another
2. to change your beliefs, especially your religious beliefs
3. to make a conversion in rugby
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.