Consider the Germanic root "mid/mit" (e.g. middle, Mittel, Mitte), the Slavic root "сред" (e.g. средство, среда), and the Latin root "medio" (e.g. median, medios, mean, moyen).

Their derived terms in all three language families have both meanings of "center, intermediate" and "method or course of action used to achieve some result".

Since it seems highly unlikely that three different roots in three different language families would have the same two meanings independently, I wondered whether only one of the two meanings is native to all three families, with the second meaning developing initially in one language family only and then spreading to the other two via calques (e.g. first developing in French, and then copied via calque by the English, Russians, and Germans).

I tried checking etymological dictionaries (e.g. Wiktionary), but none compare the etymologies of related words in different languages so as to check for calques. Thus I don't know how to confirm or deny this hypothesis. Generalizing this specific situation leads to my overall

Question. Does anyone know or can anyone suggest a standardized procedure for checking for calques obscuring a word's true etymology?


1 Answer 1


Interestingly, in PIE we have:

mee̯dos measure, treatment

mee̯dodics who gives advice, medic ( dictis = instruction )

mee̯dhi̯os middle

me̯trom lenghth, measure unit

  • That is weird (i.e. interesting) but does seem to explain my question. Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 10:28
  • I don't think this is a good answer. PIE (Proto-Indo-European) is an invented language. The "meanings" of these reconstructions were assigned to them on the basis of the daughter languages.
    – fdb
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 10:40
  • "Medic" is borrowed from Latin medicus, from *med- "to measure", with the sufffix -icus. It has nothing to do with "dictis".
    – fdb
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 10:48
  • @fdb how this contradicts my answer?
    – Anixx
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 13:50

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