Where could I find examples of words and their etymologies that occur frequently in many different languages?

For example, I know that the English word "Mother" shares a similar etymology with many other languages from civilizations across the globe.

Is there an online resource that provides examples of some (or many!) other words like this.

Again, to clarify the question, have any papers or articles been posted online of a list of examples of these common words or roots?

Question copied from here.

  • are you interested in grammatical words that have similar etymologies? for example, the etymology of a word that is used to show past tense?
    – user483
    Feb 27, 2012 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


What you're looking for is a list of cognates, i.e. words with a shared etymology; this way, you could try doing a more successful research by using the term.

I didn't find any papers specifically listing a lot of cognates for several different languages but you can find something here and there, such as this list on Wiktionary.

On the Linguist List site, someone asked a similar question to yours and they gave a link to this document listing English-Spanish cognates: Cognates by Greg Kondrak, who also wrote this about identiying cognates: "Identification of Cognates and Recurrent Sound Correspondences in Word Lists", or "Clustering Semantically Equivalent Words into Cognate Sets in Multilingual List". There's also this site listing French-English cognates.

  • 3
    An old analysis of how easy it is to find 'plausible' cognates in unrelated languages: zompist.com/chance.htm
    – jogloran
    Feb 28, 2012 at 0:10
  • 1
    i thought the question was about pathways of semantic change which recur in unrelated languages?
    – user483
    Feb 28, 2012 at 0:12
  • @jlovegren The OP asked for a paper/article that listed examples of words sharing etymologies across languages, which are cognates. I didn't read anything about what you said in your comment.
    – Alenanno
    Feb 28, 2012 at 13:39
  • 1
    @Norla Asking a question in a comment is not the best practice. Also, from your question body it seems a different question.
    – Alenanno
    Feb 28, 2012 at 22:20
  • 1
    @Norla If you need to ask a different question, you can, there is no prohibition for you to do that. I honestly interpreted your question the other way, if I felt differently I wouldn't have answered. Next time, try to be as clear and as specific as possible. It will help you get better answers!
    – Alenanno
    Feb 28, 2012 at 22:54

Your Answer

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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.