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, 2018 at 7:24
  • 1
    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? Dec 13, 2018 at 8:57
  • That is a good hint that *wesaną is a homophone. So, that's ideal. Dec 13, 2018 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, 2018 at 12:26
  • 1
    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)⟩. Dec 13, 2018 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


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
  • 1
    Good answer! But would you mind adding some examples, in case Wiktionary changes their interface and kills your link?
    – Draconis
    Dec 13, 2018 at 18:50
  • I tried but meanwhile it became community wiki so I probably need to remove my commentary
    – vectory
    Dec 13, 2018 at 22:25
  • "it became community wiki so I probably need to remove my commentary" What do you mean by that? Dec 14, 2018 at 7:45
  • You can see previous edits if you click "revs" I believe
    – vectory
    Dec 14, 2018 at 14:38

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.