When writing a text message with my phone, I often write "good n8" to say good night. Yet, I notice that this could also work in many other languages, or if not, it's pretty close. For instance :

Language - translation of eight - translation of night

French - huit - nuit

German - acht - Nacht

Dutch - acht - nacht

Spanish - ocho - noche

Portuguese - oito - noite

Norwegian - åtte - natt

Swedish - åtta - natt

Romanian - opt - noapte

And others...

Is this a mere coincidence, or is there an actual link between both of these words?

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    i don't think "good n8" works in english at all. "good neight? huh? in german it actually makes sense because "nacht" and "acht" rhyme. "eight" and "night" don't.
    – user428517
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 0:16
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    Commenting on: "i don't think "good n8" works in english at all. "good neight? huh? in german it actually makes sense because "nacht" and "acht" rhyme. "eight" and "night" don't. – sgroves 1 hour ago" 'Eight' and 'night' DO rhyme when spoken by an Australian. Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 2:07
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    Must provide a comment from an Australian: it's a nice attempt at making a joke, but it's way off the mark. Roughly, a really broad "strine" accent would pronounce night as noight, and eight as maybe ight. Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 5:02
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    Indeed, another Australian here -- can't conceive of an accent regional or urban where this is true.
    – jogloran
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 5:05
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    I think what you've found is not a link between the words, but a link between the languages. :-) Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 13:17

3 Answers 3


"Eight" comes from Proto-Indo-European oḱtou and "night" comes from nokʷts, so there is some similarity in the historically earlier forms. Due to ordinary sound changes into Italic and Germanic, you find similarities in the daughter languages, which explains the similarities of these words. But 'similar' is different from 'identical', and there is no special connection between these two words. If you look at the "satem" languages (Slavic, Baltic, Indo-Aryan) they look less similar, since "eight" will have something like [š] instead, again due to a regular sound change.

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    To add some satem correspondences, compare Russian vósemʹ 'eight', Lithuanian aštuoni 'eight', and Sanskrit aṣṭa 'eight' with Russian nočʹ 'night', Lithuanian naktis 'night', and Sanskrit nákti 'night'.
    – limetom
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 21:06
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    This is a bad answer. *h3eḱteh3- and *nokwt- have only –t- in common.
    – fdb
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 21:57
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    I assume you noticed my PIE data. When ḱ and kʷ neutralize because of independently motivated sound changes, you expect formerly-different things to become more alike. To rephrase, the daughter-language similarity is due to the particular daughter-language rules, not the PIE source. It is obvious that ḱ and kʷ are similar: similar is different from identical.
    – user6726
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 22:38
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    It would help a little if you put an * before hypothetical forms. I would contest that *ḱ and *kʷ are "similar" in that they are not sounds, but purely algebraic symbols for hypothetical proto-phonemes. Nobody knows how PIE sounded.
    – fdb
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 9:48
  • *ḱ theorized to be a palatal velar may also be transcribed *[kʲ] and where PIE is concerned, *y ~ i and *w ~ u express semivowels under different conditions, they do look very similar. In fact, one tacit conjecture about "8" has it be the dual of "4", you know, quadro "4" < *kʷetwóres with a labio dental, supposedly represented by Avestan ašti or so (cf. wiktionary).
    – vectory
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 19:08

The Latin word for night is nox/noct-is and for eight octo. There is a similarity of sounds, but I think it is highly improbable that there is some etymological relationship between the two words. I can 't think of any idea that would lead to naming a quantity of 5+3 after night. What has night to do with a number? Even if we don't know the exact ideas behind the words for the numbers we may assume that there is some logic in them. Words are no arbitrary invention.


The ancient Germanic peoples and perhaps their predecessors measured just about everything in terms of tides. According to wikipedia (I know that is a less than ideal source) they used eight tides to measure day and night - not sure if this is at all helpful


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    Both words go back well beyond "the ancient Germanic peoples", whoever they may have been.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 16:01
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    Additionally, no place on Earth has 8 tides per day. At most, some places have two high tides (and two low tides) per 24 hours. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide#/media/File:Tide_type.svg Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 8:22
  • This is a good answer. The question is poor, to wit "actual". There is no actual scholarly source that should actively deny the relation, and those that do should go as opinion. The pedagogical example of "theos" and "deus" from different roots ("create", "sky") is cited in introductory textbooks to exemplify a kind of thinking about sound change; however, the argument is circular, the circle is huge, and supposed to apply recursively to attested languages and their predecessors. It's useful for attested predecessors only! The evidence in this answer is rather actual for real, in contrast.
    – vectory
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 19:17
  • "not sure this at all helpful". This should be reworded to point out the least way in which it is helpful, which is surely there, to qualify itself as an answer. The points well taken from the bluntly negative answers need addressed. For example, common drift (see Fulk's introduction chapter) means the beginning of a common effect lies in a predecessor and develops individually in seperate branches, not necessarily in all of them. Since reconstruction of semantics is difficult specially when the inner morphology of the reconstruction is unknow, there is no way ...
    – vectory
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 19:28
  • [...] anyway. Eg. 28 nights are naturally a moonphase, 7 or 8 days for a week. Add to that, the higher numbers borrow more easily.
    – vectory
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 19:34

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