Does anyone know reconstructed homophones in Proto-Germanic or where I could look them up? I am interested in clear homophones, not polysemes.

  • The difference between homophone and polyseme is fleeting and depends on you or much rather the original speaker recognizing the connection. Which is kinda subjective. *habjana has two etymology sections but both go to the same PIE roothttps://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/habjaną *wesana goes to two different roots but that might just change if we could project farther back en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/wesaną arguably Ger. "er is(s)t" (he is/eats) shows the same homophone, still, which might be a bit more than coincidence ("es ist ..."?) – vectory Dec 13 '18 at 7:24
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    Yes, there's truth to that. But I am sure that there are always cases where you can say with certainty that something is not a polyseme. I hope I understood you correctly, Ger. essen, isst is derived from /*etaną and if you look at the conjugation table of /*wesaną ‘(to) feast’ (which isn't suppletive unlike ‘(to) be’) there seems to be no connection to essen. btw, How do I prevent the single asterisk from setting my text to italics? – tobiornottobi Dec 13 '18 at 8:57
  • That is a good hint that *wesaną is a homophone. So, that's ideal. – tobiornottobi Dec 13 '18 at 9:06
  • Well, as I said, I find it very hard to decide. The formation of the strong verb conjugation for "to be" surely doesn't invite saying just about anything with certainty. I supposed there is a reason that the 3. p. s. conjugation for both *wesana is basically the same. Then "essen" was just an off side remark because I always find it funny, and to be honest I don't know a particular reason *et- should become Ger. "es-". On the other hand, the conjugations for *wesana 1 and 2 are not exactly homophone at all. – vectory Dec 13 '18 at 12:26
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    That's the normal High German consonant shift. Spirantization/Affrication of Germanic voiceless stops is the essential feature of High German. *t > /t͡s, s̟~s̻~s̪/ ⟨z⟩ > /t͡s, s/ ⟨z, ß, s(s)⟩. – tobiornottobi Dec 13 '18 at 16:53

Set wiktionary's search to reconstruction namespace and search for

Germanic "etymology 2"

try if the link retained the settings

A few examples


  1. ring, circle; curve. From earlier *hrengaz (compare Proto-Finnic loanword *rengas), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)krengʰ-, extended nasalized form of Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (“to turn, bend”).
  2. sound, ring. From Proto-Indo-European *(s)kreg-, *(s)kArg-, *(s)kArk- (“to caw, crow, croak, pipe, shout”). Cognate with Lithuanian krañkti (“to caw, cough, croak”). https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/hringaz


  1. fodder. From Proto-Indo-European *peh₂- (“to protect, guard, graze, feed”). Possibly cognate with Latin pānis (“bread, food”).
  2. sheath. From Proto-Indo-European *peh₂- (“to protect, guard, graze, feed”) +‎ *-þrą (“tool suffix”). https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/f%C5%8Ddr%C4%85


  1. age, generation; lifetime. From *alaną +‎ *-þiz.
  2. human being; person; man. From *alaną +‎ *-þiz. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/aldiz


  1. arm. From Proto-Indo-European *h₂ermos, *h₂ŕ̥mos.
  2. poor, miserable; pitiful, pitiable. From Proto-Indo-European *h₁erm- (“poor, ill”). Cognate with Hittite 𒅕𒈠𒀭 (erman, “sickness”). Alternatively[1], from Pre-Germanic *h₃orbʰmos, with loss of -b- before -m-, from Proto-Indo-European *h₃erbʰ-; compare the Norse variant aumr, as from *arbmaz with no loss of -b-, which mirrors the dissimilation of Old Norse haustr from *harbistaz. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/armaz
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    Good answer! But would you mind adding some examples, in case Wiktionary changes their interface and kills your link? – Draconis Dec 13 '18 at 18:50
  • I tried but meanwhile it became community wiki so I probably need to remove my commentary – vectory Dec 13 '18 at 22:25
  • "it became community wiki so I probably need to remove my commentary" What do you mean by that? – tobiornottobi Dec 14 '18 at 7:45
  • You can see previous edits if you click "revs" I believe – vectory Dec 14 '18 at 14:38

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