Consider the following Ancient Greek word:


This means "garden". 'horto' is the Latin. 'jardin' in French is obviously the root for garden, but the links between Latin, Greek and English here are unclear. All the English/French roots appear to lead to "gardo" or something with a "g".

What is the etymology of the word "kipos"? Where does it come from? Why is Latin so distinct, and similarly the Old French so different to Latin or Greek?

  • 1
    in Ancient Greek η was still pronounced as /e:/ and so is properly transliterated as ē (or ambiguously as e), not i, which is only proper to Modern (or Byzantine) Greek
    – Tristan
    Mar 22, 2023 at 13:54
  • Please capitalize the names of languages and use lower case for vocabulary words.
    – Lambie
    Mar 22, 2023 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


(Side note: the ancient form is κῆπος, with a circumflex.)

The standard way to approach this sort of question is to look up the words in a good etymological dictionary. If you don't have one on hand, and don't want to make a trip to the library, Wiktionary will do in a pinch; I advise against Etymonline, which is popular but presents Proto-Indo-European etymons in a misleading way.

For these particular words, it's been suggested that kêpos is cognate with Germanic *hōbō > Dutch hueve "farmstead", from something like *keh₂péh₂. Hortus is cognate with Irish gort "field", Ancient Greek khórtos "pasture", Old English ġeard > English "yard", from something like *ǵʰórtos or *gʰórdʰos. A Germanic cognate of ġeard was borrowed into Mediaeval Latin, becoming gardīnus "garden", which became French jardin (and English "garden" through a Norman loan).

  • Thank you. So, did "kep-heh" lead to "hobo"? Are these pronounced similarly? "hepe" and "hebo"?
    – apg
    Sep 13, 2021 at 22:12
  • 5
    @apkg No, not very similarly. The Proto-Indo-European form *keh2p-éh2- (the 2’s should be subscript, but I can’t do that on my phone) and the Proto-Germanic form *hōbō are reconstructed forms, meaning we don’t know exactly how they were pronounced, or even if that precise form ever existed as such in any stage of any language; but if it did, the development from one to the other, over ~2,000 years, was something like *keh2p-éh2- /kɛχˈpɛχ/ becoming /kaχˈpaχ/, then /kaʰˈpaʰ > kaːˈpaː > xaːˈɸaː > xaːˈβaː > xɔːˈβɔː/, and finally the PG form /ˈxɔːβɔː/, which is what hōbō represents. Sep 13, 2021 at 22:39
  • 1
    Amazing. I can see it is a complex transition.
    – apg
    Sep 13, 2021 at 22:44
  • The Greek κῆπος has plausible cognates only in West Germanic. For this reason it has been suggested that it comes from some old European substrate. It is a bit daring to want to trace it all the way back to IE.
    – fdb
    Sep 15, 2021 at 10:14

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