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

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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 ...
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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 ...
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Why were prefixes repeated as postverbal prepositions?

abstain [from] (v.) [<--] late 14c., "to withhold oneself," from Old French abstenir (14c.), earlier astenir (13c.) "hold (oneself) back, refrain, abstain (from), practice abstinence," ...
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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 ...
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53 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 ...
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How the words for turn, rise and damage are related?

I wonder what is the relation between these words? ortho- vertical wart orbit root rotation invert Russian вред "damage" Russian верх "up" Russian рост "rise" Russian род "gens, kin, bear" Russian ...
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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 ...
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Did the meanings of 'vest in' and 'vest with' originate from Latin? [on hold]

[ODO:] 1.1. (usually be vested with) Give (someone) the legal right to power, property, etc. 1.2. [no object] (vest in) (Of power, property, etc.) come into the possession of ...
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140 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 ...
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89 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- ...
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61 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 ...
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66 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 ...
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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- ...
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35 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 ...
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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 ...
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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, ...
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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-) + ...
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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, ...
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How did the Latin ''putare' evolve into all these different meanings?

2. [Etymonline:] ... putare   [=]   "reckon, clear up, trim, prune, settle" (see pave) 3. [Notre Dame:] 4. think, believe, suppose, hold; 5. reckon, estimate, value; 6. clear up, ...
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Etymology of some personal pronouns in PIE

In PIE we have the following traditionally reconstructed personal pronouns: u̯oe̯ "you two" and u̯ei "we" (inclusive). Brengtson claims that the original forms should be tu̯oe̯ and tu̯ei ...
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56 views

Why are two 'com-' prefixes in 'concomitant'?

[ Etymonline for 'concomitant (adj.)' ] ... from com- "with, together" (see com-) + comitari "join as a companion," from comes (genitive comitis) "companion" (see count (n.)). [ Etymonline for ...
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PIE etymology of 'cumber (v.)'

[Etymonline for 'cumber (v.)'] ... The likely roots are PIE * kom (see com-) + * bher- (1) "to bear" (see infer). ... Strangely, Etymonline didn't explain the meaning of the prefix * kom. What ...
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How do participles partake of a noun?

[1.] [Etymonline'] from particeps "sharing, partaking" (see participation). In grammatical sense, the Latin translates Greek metokhe "sharer, partaker," and the notion is of a word "partaking" of ...
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62 views

Why does the 'PREdicate' follow?

[ Etymonline for 'predicate (n.)] ... from prae- "forth, before" (see pre-) + dicare "proclaim," from stem of dicere "to speak, to say" (see diction). Grammatical sense is from 1630s. ... ...
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69 views

“come” in “become” (English) vs “venir” in “devenir” (French)

In both French and English, the word for become (devenir) includes the word for come (venir), even though the etymologies and words are very different. Why might this be?
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Online etymology dictionary for English (more explanatory than Etymonline and OED)

Would you please recommend etymology dictionaries for English that MUST be available online (either for free or purchase), BUT subject to the following conditions? 1. Many of the recommendations in ...
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68 views

How did 'piety = piété' and 'pity = pitié' diverge and evolve?

This Quora question motivated this. Do the Etymonline entries below imply that the connotation changed in Old French (and so even before English)? I pose the question also for the equivalent French ...
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Deceptive affix changes?

I exemplify with the following, but I ask this in general. How can I learn more about affixes that change meaning, especially those that are 'upended into' their antonyms? For example, I was ...
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72 views

How does the sense of direction in grammatical terms, relate to their definitions?

declension = the variation of the form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective, by which its grammatical case, number, and gender are identified. Etymonline for `declension {noun}' rechannels to decline ...
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Etymology of 'commode' into French and then English

[ Etymonline for 'commode (n.)' ] 1786, "chest of drawers," earlier (1680s) name of a type of fashionable ladies' headdress, from French commode, noun use of adjective meaning "convenient, ...
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'stock' : How did 'to push, stick, knock, beat' evolve into 'tree stump'?

[Etymonline for 'stock (n.1)'] Old English stocc "stump, post, stake, tree trunk, log," also "pillory" (usually plural, stocks) ... from PIE *(s)teu- (1) "to push, stick, knock, beat" (see steep ...
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How did 'forth + fasten' evolve into 'propagation'?

[Etymonline for 'propagation (n.)'] ... from propago (genitive propaginis) "that which propagates, offspring," from pro- "forth" (see pro-) + * pag-, root of pangere "to fasten" (see pact). ...
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59 views

How did 'sensuality' evolve to connote lechery? Does 'sensualité'?

Is the French feminine noun sensualité asexual? The English noun is sexual. Why? I heed the Etymological Fallacy. But what are some right ways of interpreting the dchotomy, to make it feel reasonable ...
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How does PIE root dhē- 'to set, to put', evolve to mean 'thesis' ?

[Etymonline for 'thesis (n.)':] late 14c., "unaccented syllable or note," from Latin thesis "unaccented syllable in poetry," later (and more correctly) "stressed part of a metrical foot," from ...
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47 views

'scorn': How can a human have horns?

I'm trying to understand both the etymology of 'scorn', (which derives from) that of the Old French 'escarn'. So I'm trying to understand both. [Etymonline for 'scorn (n.)' :] c. 1200, a ...
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Why does word-initial upsilon always have a rough breathing?

How did a rough breathing develop before all words starting with an upsilon in Ancient Greek? This is a commonly noted fact about the distribution of these sounds (or rather spellings), but I’m having ...
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Etmology of Old French 'entreprendre' : How did 'between' evolve into 'under' ?

enterprise (n.) early 15c., "an undertaking," formerly also enterprize, from Old French enterprise "an undertaking," noun use of fem. past participle of entreprendre "UNDERtake, take in hand" ...
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Etmology of Old French 'escorgier' : How does 'bind' evolve to mean 'whip'?

scourge (n.) c. 1200, "a whip, lash," from Anglo-French escorge, back-formation from Old French escorgier "to whip," from Vulgar Latin excorrigiare, from Latin ex- "out, off" (see ex-) + corrigia ...
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PIE root streig- : How to reconcile 'To stroke, rub, press'?

Source: streig- = To stroke, rub, press. European root I heed the Etymological Fallacy, but what are some right ways of interpreting these three opposing definitions, so that this PIE root ...
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PIE root *trep-: 'trepidation' vs 'trope'

[Etymonline for trepidation (n.) :] ... from PIE * trep- (1) "to shake, tremble" ... , related to * trem- (see tremble (v.)). [Etymonline for trope (n.) :] ... from PIE * trep- (2) ...
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Where does the word “kitsch” come from?

While a lot of sources on wiktionary for instance agree that "kitsch" comes from dialectal german word "kitschen", the meaning of this word is different between wikitionary pages (in the french ...
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'dispose' vs 'dispose of' & « disposer » vs « disposer de »

[Source:] [D1.] dispose (v.) - (a) to arrange in order; (b) to lean toward or incline (typically used as a past participle). ... [D2.] dispose of (phrasal v.) - (a) to throw away or discard; (b) ...
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Etymology of English suffix -logy

I excerpt OED, which I read because I want to understand this etymology. -logy, comb. form ... These Greek words for the most part are parasynthetic derivatives; in some instances the ...
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42 views

What are the blanket or general terms representing these linguistic pitfalls?

Are there collective, sweeping official terms that comprise linguistic traps such as these? Etymological fallacy Folk etymology False friend False cognate False etymology
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60 views

Spelling Similarities in English and Spanish but not in Italian and Spanish

The spelling of the word 'admit' has a ⟨d⟩ in both English and the Spanish equivalent, admitir, but not in Italian ammettere. Why is the ⟨d⟩ absent in the Italian equivalent?
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Could “scratch” be derived from the same PIE source as “card” and “chart”?

I found the following entries on Wiktionary (emphasis mine): carte French noun card chart; map menu card English From Middle English carde (“playing card”), from Old French carte, from Latin ...
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Why are placenames considered to be a valid way of identifying a substratum?

I've been reading about different methods used in linguistics, and I've been puzzled by the usage of placenames in identifying substratums in modern languages. Just because some language and its ...
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67 views

What is the origin of the Persian word شكر meaning Sugar?

Google says the word Sugar originates from سكر in Arabic. Yet the classic dictionary القاموس المحيط says the word comes from شكر in Persian. Any help with the etymology of the Persian word شكر?
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root of the word Virt

Originally "virtual" comes from Latin virtus, which can be translated like "force", "ability", "fact". Why nowadays in many languages word derived from "virtual" mean something exactly opposite - ...