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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

-3
votes
0answers
15 views

How did the Germanic base *lik- mean both 'body, form' and 'like, same'?

like (adj.) [...] from Proto-Germanic * galika- "having the same form," literally "with a corresponding body" (cognates: Old Saxon gilik, Dutch gelijk, German gleich, Gothic galeiks ...
2
votes
1answer
40 views

How to disambiguate cognate verbs that differ only by a prefix?

What linguistics terms describe the following pairs of verbs? 'Cognate' seems too vague. Are there any resources that investigate the big picture behind, and possible explanations of, the differences ...
-3
votes
1answer
33 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. ...
1
vote
1answer
72 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
39 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
48 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
74 views

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

How it happened that the same roller coaster type is called "Russian mountains" in America and "American mountains" in Russia?
2
votes
1answer
55 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English & Competing Borrowings: How many “pre-Norman” loanwords are known to have been replaced by “post-Hastings” ones?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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
63 views

Why does the head connote foolhardiness? [on hold]

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. ...
0
votes
0answers
19 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 ...
-4
votes
0answers
56 views

Why was 'rite' assigned to the PIE root *re(i)-?

rite (n.) [⟸] early 14c., from Latin ritus "religious observance or ceremony, custom, usage," perhaps from PIE root * re(i)- "to count, number" (cognates: Greek arithmos "number," Old English ...
0
votes
0answers
44 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
40 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" ...
2
votes
0answers
45 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 ...
-1
votes
0answers
12 views

For 'also', how is ' the demonstrative sense of “similarly” weakened to “in addition to” '? [migrated]

also (adv.) Old English eallswa "just as, even as, as if, so as, likewise," compound of all + so. The demonstrative sense of "similarly" weakened to "in addition to" in 12c., replacing eke. ...
1
vote
2answers
54 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
31 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
62 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
27 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
35 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
58 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
78 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
25 views

'wont': How did 'to rejoice' evolve to mean both 'to inhabit' and 'to be accustomed'?

wont (adj.) [⟸] [4.] "accustomed," Middle English contraction of [3.] Old English wunod, past participle of wunian [3.1] "to dwell, inhabit, exist;                          [3.2] be ...
0
votes
1answer
64 views

Etymology of “Haggard” has anything to do with Hagar in Islam?

A simple google search tells me that "Haggard" emerged in... ...mid 16th century (used in falconry): from French hagard ; perhaps related to hedge; later influenced by hag. However, on a ...
-4
votes
1answer
69 views

Are cent and cena related?

A number of Slavic languages have the word "cena" meaning "price": Slovenian, Slovak, Polish cena, Russian цена I wonder whether it is related to the word cent
1
vote
1answer
48 views

How to parse 'in as much' and similar syntagmas?

[OED] inasmuch {adverb} = [Etymology:] originally 3 words in as much (in northern Middle English in als mikel), subsequently sometimes written as 2 words, in asmuch, and now (especially since ...
0
votes
1answer
54 views

Do the words “dolphin” and “الدلفين” in English and Arabic have the same origin?

The word dolphin is used in may languages including English and Arabic (الدلفين) But it seems Arabic dictionaries say originally it has been darfil while Oxford dictionary says it is derived from the ...
13
votes
3answers
180 views

r in Romance names of London

Most Romance languages have an "r" in their renditions of the British capital's name: Londres, Londra etc. Outside the Romance family, I only found it in Turkish Londra and Breton Londrez, but those ...
1
vote
4answers
174 views

Why does “before” mean both “in front of” and “prior to”?

The word "before" means both "in front of" and "prior to". Not only in English though - in many European languages: in Dutch "voor" means both in Italian "prima" can mean both (afaik) in French ...
0
votes
0answers
37 views

How did 'of' 's figurative meanings evolve from 'away, away from'?

of (prep.) [⇐] Old English of, unstressed form of æf (prep., adv.) "away, away from" [...], from PIE *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Primary sense in Old English still was "away," but shifted in ...
0
votes
0answers
36 views

How to learn more about seemingly contradictory or superfuous affixes?

Instead of questioning each word's prefixes, how can I learn more about this efficiently and productively? I wish to learn, myself, to expose and explain all hidden, missing semantic drifts and link. ...
0
votes
0answers
35 views

How did the Old French 'vengier' produce, in its cognates, so many valencies?

avenge (v.) [←] late 14c., from Anglo-French avenger, Old French avengier, from a- "to" (see ad-) + vengier "take revenge" (Modern French venger) [continued below] revenge (v.) [←] ...
1
vote
0answers
33 views

'penance' vs 'penitence'

penance (n.) [←] late 13c., "religious discipline or self-mortification as a token of repentance and as atonement for some sin," from Anglo-French penaunce, Old French peneance (12c.), from ...
3
votes
1answer
146 views

Etymology of 'but', from West Germanic to Old English

but (adv., prep.) [<--] Old English butan, buton "unless, except; without, outside," from West Germanic * be-utan, a compound of * be- "by" (see by) + * utana "out, outside; from ...
0
votes
0answers
46 views

How did '-ikos' evolve into '-ic'?

-ics [<--] in the names of sciences or disciplines (acoustics, aerobics, economics, etc.) it represents a 16c. revival of the classical custom of using the neuter plural of adjectives with ...
0
votes
0answers
63 views

Why were prefixes repeated as postverbal prepositions?

French: s'abstenir de    Spanish: abstenerse de    English: abstain [from] (v.) [<--] late 14c., "to withhold oneself," from Old French abstenir (14c.), earlier astenir (13c.) "hold ...
2
votes
0answers
114 views

Parallels between h₂ and t in PIE and Nostratic, what is the explanation?

In Afro-Asiatic we have the feminine ending -a which has the following evolution history: -a < -aha < -at < et where ha is aleph In IE (for instance, in Russian, Greek, Latin) we also have ...
0
votes
0answers
58 views

Some PIE words, traditionally reconstructed with o-coloring laryngeal, could they have u̯ instead?

Particularly I am interested whether words for orbit and orphan related to the root u̯er- "bend". Traditionally we have o̯orbhis circle, orb, turning object o̯orbhos orphan, servant The semantic ...
2
votes
1answer
94 views

Language origin of english words by usage

This neat diagram was brought up on english.SE from wikipedia, based on research by research by Finkenstaedt, Thomas and Joseph M. Williams describing where words come from. On the wikipedia page ...
2
votes
1answer
146 views

Why do some languages partition 'to know' into 2 or more verbs?

I was reading the etymology of the Modern English verb 'know', when its reference to other languages motivated this question: [...] Once widespread in Germanic, this form is now retained only in ...
0
votes
3answers
93 views

How does the prefix 'ad-' function in 'attribute'?

attribute (v.) [<--] late 14c., "assign, bestow," from Latin attributus, past participle of attribuere "assign to, add, bestow;" figuratively "to attribute, ascribe, impute," from ad- ...
0
votes
1answer
97 views

'stipend' : How did 'a tree trunk' evolve to mean 'payment, gift'?

stipend (n.)    early 15c., "periodical payment; soldier's pay," from Latin stipendium "tax, impost, tribute," in military use "pay, salary," from stips "alms, small payment, contribution of ...
-1
votes
1answer
104 views

How did the Vulgar Latin 'parabola' evolve to mean 'word'?

parable (n.)    mid-13c., parabol, modern form from early 14c., "saying or story in which something is expressed in terms of something else," from Old French parable "parable, parabolic ...
-1
votes
1answer
28 views

Did the English 'confer' evolve from the Middle French « conférer » ?

[Etymonline :] 1530s, from Middle French conférer (14c.) "to give, converse, compare," from Latin conferre "to bring together," figuratively "to compare; consult, deliberate, talk over," from com- ...
0
votes
1answer
39 views

What did the Greek 'peripherein' carry?

periphery (n.) late 14c., "atmosphere around the earth," from Old French periferie (Modern French périphérie), from Medieval Latin periferia, from Late Latin peripheria, from Greek peripheria ...
1
vote
0answers
53 views

How did the PIE root 'dek-' evolve into the Greek 'dokein' to appear, seem, think' ?

dek- To take, accept. ... [2.] b. dogma, dogmatic; chionodoxa, Docetism, doxology, heterodox, orthodox, paradox, from Greek dokein, to appear, seem, think (< "to cause to accept or be ...
0
votes
3answers
100 views

How did the PIE root *per- (forward, through) evolve into 'para-', to mean 'contrary to'?

[Etymonline :] ... before vowels, par-, word-forming element meaning "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal," from Greek para- from para (prep.) "beside, near, issuing from, ...
1
vote
0answers
56 views

What does the prefix 'ab-' mean in the Latin verb 'abundare' ?

abound (v.) early 14c., from Old French abonder "to abound, be abundant, come together in great numbers" (12c.), from Latin abundare "overflow, run over," from Latin ab- "off" (see ab-) + ...
-1
votes
2answers
54 views

The PIE root *per- “forward, through” : How did it evolve to mean 'private' ?

[Etymonline :] ... privus "one's own, individual," from PIE *prei-wo-, from PIE *prai-, *prei-, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per). ... [AHI :] per1 ... ... from Latin prīvus, ...