I'm trying to understand how the Greek word for backside/rear could be derived from the PIE word for 'to flow'. There is a Sanskrit word arsati which means 'to pierce', so the meaning of the PIE root is not in doubt. But I dont quite follow how "flow" could be the root word for "backside", as wiki (https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/οὐρά#Ancient_Greek) claims (which I'm sure is valid too).


1 Answer 1


The idea is that there were two homophonic IE roots: *h₁ers- "tail" and *h₁ers- "to flow". Nobody is claiming that the two are connected.

  • 3
    That makes a lot of sense! May I request for a reference for that? Maybe I could fix up the wiki since no one else has...
    – dakini
    Nov 10, 2019 at 16:43
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    @Yogesch. You ask about references. I can only argue e silentio: none of the standard etymological dictionaries connect the "tail" word with the "flow" word. I have checked de Vaan (Latin), Beekes (Greek), Mayrhofer (Sanskrit). Even Wiktionary does not explicitly make this connection.
    – fdb
    Nov 11, 2019 at 11:57
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    @fdb Though I'd say that's very good evidence—it sounds like de Vaan, Beekes, and Mayrhofer mention each of the two reconstructed PIE roots individually and separately, which they wouldn't do if they considered them to be one and the same.
    – Draconis
    Nov 11, 2019 at 20:21

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