Slovene has a word: vrtnica (wiktionary: en, sl) meaning "rose".

It resembles the known Proto-Indo-European *wr̥dʰos “sweetbriar”, which gives Persian gul "rose, flower" and Old/Middle Iranian borrowings including Old Armenian vard "rose" and Ancient Greek ῥόδον (rhódon, "rose") (to name the most well-known reflexes). (See, for example, the StarLing database entry *wordh-, *word- or Wiktionary's etymology for rose.)

Can it be a Slavic reflex that survived from the Proto-Indo-European root? Or the historical sound laws would give a different appearance of the root in Slavic?

Note that the StarLing database entry *wordh-, *word- or other etymological notes don't know any Slavic reflexes. To my knowledge, it is also not knwon in other Slavic languages, but Slovene.

If this could be a valid reflex of the Proto-Indo-European root according to the established historical sound laws, then it would be an interesting finding for Indo-European studies corroborating this reconstructed PIE root by the data from one more IE branch. Now the data from different branches is a bit scarce: taking into account that the Armenian form (and possibly the Greek one, too) is considered to be a borrowing, this reconstruction has a support from only two branches.


The StarLing database entry *wordh-, *word-:

Proto-IE: *wordh-, *word-

Meaning: sweetbrier

Avestan: { varǝδa- `rose' }

Other Iranian: NPers gul `Rose' (< *wrdho-, cf. Arm vard < Iran)

Old Greek: rhódo-n, äol. bródo-n n. `Rose'

Germanic: *wurɵ=, *wurd=
  Proto-Germanic: *wurɵ=, *wurd=

  Meaning: a bush

  Norwegian: ol, dial. erre, orr (pl. errer), ordre

  Swedish: dial. orr, arre, arder

  Old English: { word `Dornstrauch' }

Russ. meaning: дерево (шиповник)

References: WP I 316

1 Answer 1


(A long time after I wondered about this at Wiktionary discussion page, user Conlibae M. Rep knowledgable in Slovene gave an answer there that must settle this question! Let me translate from Russian a similar answer another person (todash_tahken) gave in LiveJournal concerning this matter, which I've just found by googling.)

Those who know Slovene would understand without hesitation where the word vrtnica "rose" comes from.

  • Slovene vrt (wikt) means "garden".
  • vrtnica stands for vrtna roža, literally "garden flower" (wikt). (That's called univerbisation, when a single word is formed to stand for a whole combination of words.)

vrtna roža "garden flower" is calqued from German Gartenrose. It appeared in Slovene in the 18th century.

Note that this word for "garden" is also present in Serbo-Croatian: vȑt (Cyrillic spelling вр̏т) (wikt); the etymology of the Slovene and Serbo-Croatian words being listed in Wiktionary is:

From Proto-Slavic *vъrtъ, from Latin hortus.

  • 1
    FYI: Hieronymus Megiser 1592 Dictionarium quatuor linguarum already lists roshni vert "Rosengarten"; DWB mentions; Grimm's DWB later lists five senses for R. next to dimin. Rosengärtchen specifically noting "in österr. Schlesien" (Austrian Silesia; similarly Slovene in Megiser is called "Illyricae" in the subtitle and "Windisch" in the page headers, cp the Wends?) "nennt man einen wenig gebrauchten garten ein rosengärtchen" (one calls a little used garden a r.). long story short, I'd compare En ward and many cognates under the root *wer-, glossed diversely, at least once "hill"
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 19:56
  • @vectory Thanks for interesting information! Do I understand correctly that your remark (1) shows that a combination of words roža and vrt was used in Slovene already before 18 c. (although that was a different composition, with the head "garden"; (2) suggests an alternative etymology for Slovene vrt "garden" instead of a borrowing from Latin. ((1) is quite clear; (2) is less obvious for me whether I've understood the intention of your remark concerning En. ward correctly.) Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 20:15
  • 1. Indeed, and I suggest compare Ger Primel "primrose", that is almost synonymous with garden-variety. 2. It's not obvious too me either. It's just a reminder to myself, as long as I can't figure it out. In short, this fella here brought up a sense "to bud, sprout", I thought way to long about rosebuds (because of your post), breast warts (see there), and Warzenhof, so I imagined a hill, but when I saw *wer- "highlands, hill" mentioned at Latin varus "pimpel" [Wikt] as predicted, I finally lost my mind.
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 22:23
  • @vectory As for (2), I'm not good at deciding which etymology is better. I prefer just to cite other specialists when I have to deal with eymology. And ask myself and others (as I did in this question):which outcome would the established laws of historical sound changes predict? As a way to verify the suggested derivation from a proto-form to a reflex. Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 6:22
  • This answer doesn't cover the part of the question which asks what the historical sound changes in Slavic would give for PIE *wrdhos. Still I'm accepting this as an answer as the provided etymology clearly rejects a connection with PIE *wrdhos. Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 11:27

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