July 2, 2012
Yes, “derange” (meaning “throw into confusion”) does connect etymologically to “range” (a row of mountains or an area over which animals forage for food). Etymology.com shows how both derive from an Old French word, rangier meaning “to place in a row, arrange.”
But I don;t think the connection is quite what Marian Forer had in mind in writing the following letter to the Saturday Review in 1964. The letter came to hand this morning via the blog Letters of Note:
July 30, 1964
Dear Mr. Fuller:
I was struck (lightly) the other day by the following wonder: if lawyers become disbarred, and priests unfrocked, how might people in other paths of life be read out of their profession or calling?
It occurred to me then that electricians get delighted, and musicians possibly denoted. If these assumptions are correct, surely it follows that cowboys must be deranged, that models are deposed, and judges are obviously distorted. A medium who loses her license is dispirited, and it seems only poetic justice that a Far Eastener who is banished is disoriented.
I could go on and on, but I don’t want to overload the mail handlers. An office worker who can’t cope may, alas, become defiled.