The study of the history of words including their origins and the changes they've undergone through time.

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English Etymology for Two Purposes

I'm considering jumping into a large-scale survey of English etymology for two reasons: First of all, I'm interested in going a lot deeper in certain fields which have a high memorization burden for ...
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1answer
68 views

Examples of English words that were replaced and became obsolete? [closed]

I have an example in Hebrew, so you can understand what I'm looking for. the English word "taxi" was used in Israel for a long time, because there was no word meaning taxi in Hebrew. a Hebrew word for ...
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36 views

How to practically apply Grimm and Verner's law to english and Spanish

I am a beginner in linguistics and don't know many details about the field of study in general, but, for a beginner, is there anything that shows how english and spanish are related through those laws ...
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52 views

What language doesn't have a word for 'human'?

E.g., it only has separate words for 'man' and 'woman', but no word to call people in general (a phrase "people are there" can only be literally translated as "men and women are there") Or, perhaps, ...
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1answer
48 views

How did 'of' absorb so many meanings?

[OED:] The primary sense was ‘away’, ‘away from’, a sense now obsolete, except in so far as it is retained under the spelling off (see off adv., prep., n.1, and adj.). All the existing uses of of ...
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186 views

Verner's Law and 'ge-'

Verner's Law says that voiceless fricatives, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing. The Germanic prefix 'ge-' as in German 'genug' or English 'enough' ...
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1answer
91 views

Is there any english version [online, PDF] of the following?

Is there any english version [online, PDF] of the following?: Mayhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen. I had downloaded one but unfortunately it was in German language which is ...
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2answers
70 views

What is the underlying meaning of the English 'of'? [closed]

TL;DR: What is the semantic field or the big picture behind the English 'of'? I seek an explanation like this which exposes the underlying semantic field of ‘tally’. Addendum: of (as a ...
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3answers
225 views

The origin of the term 'verb'

References tell me that the term 'verb' originally means 'word'. This is easily understood by usages such as 'verbal abuse', 'verbal agreement', 'he's very verbal', etc. That said, of all the various ...
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1answer
97 views

Why are some sea mammals called “sea pigs”?

Recently, I learnt that the literal meaning of the main written Japanese form for dolphin, "海豚", is "sea" and "pig". The Japanese person mentioning that noted that he didn't know for sure why that was ...
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1answer
219 views

Why should etymology stop where it does?

There are many words whose origin is traced through Middle English and/or French to Latin or Greek, and then it just stops there. Case in point: the word "etymology" itself: 1350-1400; Middle ...
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62 views

What is the meaning of “Mar”? [closed]

I am wondering what is the meaning of ," Mar" part of some words such as Margarita, Maria, Martin? I appreciate your answer! Thanks in advance! Margarita
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1answer
80 views

Origin of words [closed]

I'd like to know how words originated. I'm not talking about etymology. For example, an etymology web site says the word "love" came from PIE(Proto-Indo-European) "leubh". Then how "leubh" originated? ...
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2answers
81 views

Why does Greek have 'aorgesia' and 'aorist' rather than 'anorgesia' and 'anorist'?

The Ancient Greek words ἀοργησία aorgesia "a defect in the passion of anger" and ἀόριστος aoristos "without boundaries" both start with the "alpha privatum," the negative prefix cognate to English un- ...
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1answer
55 views

How was the Anglo-Norman spelling of 'demesne' 'merely graphic'?

[OED:] The Anglo-Norman spelling demesne of the law-books, and 17th cent. legal antiquaries, was partly merely graphic (the quiescence of original s before a consonant leading to the insertion of a ...
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2answers
75 views

Kai as a Frisian diminutive of Gerhard, Nicolaas, Cornelius, or Gaius

On this website, it is mentioned that Kai might be considered as a Frisian diminutive of Gerhard, Nicolaas (Nicholas), Cornelius, or Gaius. I can see the relationship between Kai and Gaius (Caius, ...
2
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1answer
83 views

Etymology of “iron” - semantic change

I have run into something weird about the etymology of this word. Wiktionary gives some details. It claims that it descends from PIE *h₁ésh₂r̥ (blood) via Proto-Celtic, and cites two sources to back ...
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1answer
75 views

The origin of the two usages of “certain”

Question What is the origin of the combination of these two meaning types in a single word, which we seem to find in some related languages? Type A: a certain teacher / ein bestimmter Lehrer / ...
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1answer
80 views

Why are the Turkeys name in reference to other cultures?

Introduction After being literally translated into english, the name of the Turkey (bird) follow some interesting pattern. In english, they are called "Turkey". In turkish, they are called "Hindi". ...
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22answers
488 views

Is English the only language to use “You're welcome”?

I've read on a few websites that English is the only language where it's accepted to say, "You're welcome" in response to someone thanking you. Other languages tend to use variances of "it was ...
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1answer
75 views

Meaning of “Elin”

Elin is supposed to mean "Woman of Intelligence" in Sanskrit see http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Elin. However, I was not able to verify this independently in Sanskrit dictionaries on the web ...
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1answer
81 views

Etymology of the tribe-names Latins, Lydians, Latvians, Lithuanians?

According to some ancient historians (e.g. Herodotos, Dionysius of Halicarnassus) and poets (e.g. Virgil) there was some ethnic relation between the people of the East Coast of Asia Minor (where Troy ...
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48 views

Are these Kazakh words considered borrowings (from Russian?) or onomatopoieias?

These three words are very similar in English, Russian and Kazakh. At least the Russian set is considered inherited from PIE. English - Russian - Kazakh crush - крушить (krushitь) - қырш (qyrsh) ...
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1answer
64 views

Are English crush and Russian крушить related?

I wonder whether English crush and Russian крушить (krushit', "to crush") related?
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71 views

Does the etymology of 'affricate' consist with its meaning? [closed]

affricative (n.) 1879, perhaps via German, with -ive + Latin affricat-, past participle stem of affricare "rub against," from ad- (see ad-) + fricare "to rub" (see friction). Source: p 40, ...
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57 views

Why is the Frontal plane called the 'Coronal plane'?

Preface: Beware that Spanish (eg: los planos coronales) and Portuguese also derive from the Latin corona; so this question transcends English etymology. ...
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2answers
163 views

How did the name for st Peter become to be rendered as “Peter” in English, and why is not rendered as “stone” or “rock”

As I understand it, in the original bible passage, Jesus says to Peter "And I tell you that you are Petros, and on this petra I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" And ...
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1answer
56 views

“Dexenoethnic exonyms”: typological studies, references and/or resources?

By "dexenoethnic exonym" (my own coinage for the purpose of this particular question) I mean an ethnonym/glottonym derived from a name originally applied to a (language of a) different ethnic group, ...
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0answers
92 views

What explains the sound development from Latin -vi- to French -dg- ?

abridge (v.) [...] from Old French abregier "abridge, diminish, shorten," from Late Latin abbreviare "make short" (see abbreviate). The sound development from Latin -vi- to French -dg- is ...
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42 views

Is the ellipsis behind 'such as' grammatically correct?

[OED] 7. a. With correlative as pron. (see AS conj. 17), Middle English also as that, taking the place of Old English swelce, swá. such as = Of the kind or degree that; the kind of (person or ...
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2answers
117 views

What explains the differences between doublet verbs that differ by a prefix?

The differences in meanings of doublet verbs such as 3-6 below: Are there any resources that investigate the big picture behind them? I abhor to memorise, and prefer to understand, such ...
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1answer
41 views

Does '-ous' imply no interruption, and '-al' the possibility of interruption?

I already know that 'continuous' is stronger than continual, but that both derive from the same Latin etymon continuus. These answers on ELU evidence this difference, but does not explain the cause. ...
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1answer
125 views

Why is the past participle of the French « lire » « lu », but « rire » « ri »?

Phonologically,« lire » and « rire » sound like a minimal pair, with the first letter as the only difference. So what might explain the difference between their « participes passé »? Their etymons ...
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1answer
55 views

How does a rule explain how « à chef » evolved into « achever »?

Etymonline refers to the "An Etymological Dictionary of the French Language" by Auguste Brachet, translated by G.W. Kitchin, Oxford, 1878. Its entry for achever, on page 152 of 558, states: For f ...
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2answers
64 views

Online etymology dictionaries for French, beyond CNTRL?

Are there etymology dictionaries for French available on the Internet? To wit, what's a French equivalent of http://etymonline.com/? I already know about TLF informatisé (TLFi), but often, it does ...
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2answers
94 views

How it happened that the same thing called “Russian mountains” in America and “American mountains” in Russia? [closed]

How it happened that the same roller coaster type is called "Russian mountains" in America and "American mountains" in Russia?
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1answer
66 views

English & Competing Borrowings: How many “pre-Norman” loanwords are known to have been replaced by “post-Hastings” ones?

What I am looking for: As my question suggests, I'm interested in words English has adopted from other languages. More specifically, I'm interested in old Celtic or Scandinavian (or other) loanwords ...
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1answer
68 views

Why does the head connote foolhardiness? [closed]

Whence does this connotation of 'head' as foolhardiness originate? PIE? It appears in English words of Germanic origin like 'headfirst' and 'headlong', but also Latinate words like precipitate. ...
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20 views

Word ageing: what reliable bibliographical references can be recommended?

I have encountered the notion of "word ageing". Lexemes (unless and until replaced through internal or external innovation) grow older and older, and with time they tend to (1) acquire some additional ...
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59 views

Why was 'thwart' assigned to PIE *terkw- “to twist”?

thwart (adv.) [...] c. 1200, from a Scandinavian source, probably Old Norse þvert "across," originally neuter of thverr (adj.) "transverse, across," (cognate with Old English þweorh ...
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1answer
76 views

How did the Greek 'tropos' evolve into the Latin 'tropus'?

contrive (v.) [...] from Late Latin contropare "to compare" (via a ♦♦♦ figure of speech ♦♦♦) from Latin com- "with" (see com-) + tropus "song, musical mode," from Greek tropos "figure of speech" ...
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0answers
57 views

The origin of “ba” particle

In French, Italian there is a particle ba(h) which is used for exclamation of contempt, excitement, surprise etc. There's pretty similar particle բա in Armenian which is used for expressing amusent as ...
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2answers
64 views

How did the Latin stem '-duce' evolve to mean 'from an effect'?

From the following (on the 3 derivatives of ducere), both 'induction' and 'abduction' presuppose 'an effect', but 'deduction' produces (I intended this use of another derivative of ducere) 'the ...
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66 views

How did the prefix 'be-' function in 'behind'?

behind (adv.) Old English behindan "behind, after," from bi "by" + hindan "from behind" (see hind (adj.)). hindan already meant "from behind", and It doesn't make sense to say: by from ...
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99 views

What exactly is remarkable about Proto-Germanic *wrakjon?

wretch, n. and adj. Etymology: Old English wrecca , wræcca , = Old Saxon wrekkio , -eo (applied to the Magi), Old High German reccheo , reccho , etc., exile, adventurer, knight errant (Middle ...
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34 views

How does the (Old) English 'rife' relate to the PIE *rei- “to scratch, tear, cut”?

rife (adj.) [⟸] Old English rife "abundant, common, prevalent," from Proto-Germanic rif- (cognates: Old Norse rifr, Swedish river, Norwegian riv, Middle Dutch riif, Middle Low German rive ...
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40 views

Has 'com-' been a causative prefix?

Please correct me if I erred, and if I missed any semantic drifts. Is my effort below right? constitute {verb}     Etymology : [..] con- intensive + statuĕre to set up, place: [...] 6. To ...
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19 views

After verbs, how does 'from' compare with 'of'?

(TL;DR) I've been plagued by the postverbal use of the preposition 'of'. After verbs, when describing attributes like origin or source, what are the differences between 'from' and 'of'? The verbs ...
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1answer
62 views

What's the etymology of 'of' after verbs?

(TL;DR) While reading about preposition of on OED (eg avail of, enquire of), I encountered OED's claim that the postverbal of originates from the genitive case, and from Old English. How can this ...
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2answers
127 views

How did “as” (in English) branch into many meanings that look unlinked?

How did as change semantically and ramify into all the meanings beneath? What underlying ideas or metaphors link them? Beneath, I chose only the broadest meanings from ODO, to see the "overall ...