The English word angst, taken from German Angst, seems to ultimately originate from Proto-Germanic *angustiz. This word has descendants in many Germanic languages, including, but not limited to, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, German and Dutch. The English word anger is also related to this group.

The English word anxiety has a similar meaning and seems to derive from Latin anxietās. This word has cognates all over the Romance languages, including, but not limited to, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

These two groups of cognates mean similar things. If we go even further back, is there a link between the two groups, for example in Proto Indo European?

I would prefer if answers included a source.

  • By the way, angst is not an inherited word in English. It was borrowed from German Angst "fear." Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 15:58
  • @sumelic Does that mean I made a mistake in the question, or are you just providing additional information?
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 15:59
  • From the way you phrased the question, I wasn't sure if you knew. Generally, in historical linguistics the term "cognate" only refers to words that have a continuous line of transmission from a common ancestor. By this definition, English "angst" does not have any cognates, as it is a loanword. See this question for more explanation: Is a loanword also a cognate or are the two terms mutually exclusive? Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 16:05
  • @sumelic I see. No, I totally didn't know that. Could you edit my question to remove the inaccuracy?
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 16:15
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    @sumelic: That is not how I have ever seen the word cognate used, in such a narrow sense! To me, sharing a common root is synonymous with being cognate. Nor, frankly, has that answer convinced me to use it differently from now on. I've never seen its mening limited such that borrowing between languages should destroy cognation. And there is considerable dissent among the answers to and comments on that question.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


Yes, Germanic angst and Latin anxiety are are derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root, which was something like *h₂enǵʰ- "constrict, narrow".

Philippa (2003-2009) confirm that they are cognates: under angst they say, "see eng"; under eng they say that the word is related to Latin ango and they give the Proto-Indo-European root as above. Also related is angina, from Greek.

De Vaan (2008) says anxius is derived from ango as expected, and mentions the same root as Philippa.

Idle speculation: the root may be onomatopoeic, because an emphatic sound /ŋ/ resembles the sound one makes when one's throat is blocked or constricted.

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    Re your idle speculation, the Hebrew root for "choke, suffocate" is ħ-n-q (coincidence? onomatopoeia? Nostratic cognate?).
    – TKR
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 16:08
  • @TKR: Ah, very interesting! Let's call it a Nostratic onomatopoeia that need not have been.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 16:18
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    @TKR I suggest you start a paper on all of this right away. It will be the start of hte Cerberus-TKR theorem.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 18:44
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    @Fiksdal: It shall be the Fiksdal-TKT-Cerberus theorem!
    – Cerberus
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 22:20
  • LOL, I'm flattered that you're including me
    – Fiksdal
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 2:20

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