In all the commotion over derivatives, it has become difficult to tell exactly what the term meanS. At times it seems like the definition is any investment where someone recently lost money.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, as a noun derivative means "a thing of derived character, a thing flowing, proceeding or originating from another." The word arises out of the Latin derivare, "to lead or draw off(water or liquid), to divert, derive (words)" and from the French "de + rivus (brook, stream of water)."

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