0

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 feels reasonable and intuitive?

My problem: Is this root a contronym? The 3 infinitives in the definition clash, and confuse me.
'to stroke' is ambiguous; as below, its definition 1 connotes softness but its definition 3 connotes roughness.
'To rub' connotes softness.
'to press' is equally ambiguous; pressure can be soft or hard.

stroke {verb} {with object} = 1. Move one’s hand with gentle pressure over (a surface), typically repeatedly; caress

= 3. Hit or kick (a ball) smoothly and deliberately:

Footnote: I was reading Etymonline for 'stroke {verb} when I encountered this PIE root.

1
  • Definitions are frequently poorly written, but you're getting yourself confused by even trying to reconcile it with a sporting sense (especially one which I'd assume is AmEng).
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 18, 2015 at 4:55

2 Answers 2

2

These definitions aren't contradictory: they all refer to physical contact with some unspecified amount of pressure, and with the possibility of simultaneous movement along the surface. The resulting overall sense is a pretty broad one, but this is often the case with semantic reconstruction: if the reflex in language A means "rub" and the reflex in language B means "press", it's hard or impossible to tell which of the two was the original sense (or whether both are original), and lexicographers are reduced to simply listing both senses.

1

Definition 3 is surely a recent secondary development in English (and it is an English English definition - pace curiousdanii) used in TV football commentaries. To me 'rubbing' is 'soft stroking' and 'pressing' implies something similar without the movement so I would not see them as opposing. Presumably 'streig-' is the direct forebear of 'stroke'. *streig- > *straikanan > strācan > stroke. Ned

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.