A gândi is in modern Romanian the common/main form of the verb "to think", based on the noun gând ("thought"). It is considered of Hungarian origin, from "gond".

I don't want to bluntly dismiss the Hungarian ultimate origin. But the word in Hungarian is signaled of unknown origin, which for any etymologist is not an answer and begs for further investigation — something which I have tried to do below. - To farther illustrate my logic: Hungarian word furulya (flute) is surely of Romanian origin. Why sure? Because it is present in Albanian. But its origin is disputed, either Latin or of Balkan substrate. That's what I was imagining for gând too.

It is common, even obligatory, for the etymology of Romanian words that don't have a clear Latin or Slavic root, to look next at the Albanian-Romanian linguistic connection. In this case, where a word has a Hungarian connection, but one that involves ultimately an unknown origin, it is only normal to check that Balkan relation too, whether on a Latin etymological branch or not.

— "Gând" has taken precedence over the blatantly Latin a cugeta (to think, cogitate), cuget (mind, faculty of thought), now more of literary/poetic or archaic use, so that cugetare means "cogitation" as "aphorism", "apothegm". Somewhat frequent still are cugetat/necugetat (wise/foolish).—

gând= thought, intention, preoccupation, representation, mental state

  • gândire = noun: theory, thought (as in ”gândirea marxistă”=Marxist thought)

  • gânditor = adjective: thoughtful, noun: thinker

  • pe negândite = adverb: without thinking, improvised, without letting/having time to think

  • pe gânduri, as in a sta/cădea pe gânduri=to ”be, stay/fall” on thoughts=to be/become thoughtful, anxious

  • a (se) îngândura = to become reflexive, anxious

  • îngândurat = adjective: reflexive, anxious, thoughtful, preoccupied, ”full of thoughts”

  • îngândurare = anxiety, concern

There is no officially accepted complete etymological dictionary of Romanian for the moment, only personal works, but there seems to be a consensus that the Romanian “thought”/gând is of Hungarian origin ,from gond.

gond = "trouble", "preoccupation", (rare, archaic) "care" — leading to:

  • gondos (os=with) – careful

  • gondtalan (talan=less) – careless

  • gondatlan (atlan=without) – carefree

  • gondoz (-oz – verb-forming suffix) – to take care, tend

  • gondnok (-nok – noun-forming suffix) – caretaker, guardian

but especially:

  • gondol: to think, consider, believe, guess – exactly the sense of the Romanian gând

— So that, the Cartesian cogito ergo sum is translated with the same root in Romanian (“gândesc, deci exist”) and Hungarian (gondolkodom, tehát vagyok”)!

In both languages the verb is based on the noun. In Hungarian it is said to be of unknown origin, in Romanian it is said of Hungarian origin.

But there is clearly a common root. If the root is not Hungarian (Hun. gond > Rom. gând), then it must be Romanian (gând > gond), apparently still with an unknown origin, which for Romanian usually leads to the search for a substrate, Balkan (possibly Thracian-Dacian) origin, and/or an Albanian origin.

What strikes me in the case of Romanian words of clear Hungarian origin is that the Hungarian root-form is much more productive (e.g. Romanian fel) or the Hungarian word is itself based on Hungarian elements that are absent in Romanian —like Romanian oraș, ”city” < Hun. város=vár, “castle” +‎ -os, derivative noun-forming suffix, alcătui ”to put together”, cheltui, ”to spend” etc.

Gond is not like that.

As for possible Albanian relations of gând, there seem to be some traces:

In Albanian there is:

  • gënjej = to lie, to deceive – from Vulgar Latin ingannō, from Latin ganniō. Compare Romanian îngâna (to mimic, mock, deceive, hum or murmur in order to mimic, to mockingly imitate) hence:
  • gënjeshtër – noun: deceit, lie
  • gënjeshtar = liar
  • zhgënjej = to disappoint, disenchant, disillusion

Romanian form for “(to) lie” is (a) minți, noun: minciună, mincinos/mincinoasă (liar, masc./fem.) with equivalents in all Romance (Ital. mentire, Fr. mentir etc), from Latin mentior < mens, mentis, which in Albanian has given mend/mendje= "mind, thought, think" and mendoj = “to think” (hence mendoj, pra jam = “I think, therefore I am”). - That is related to or descending from Proto-Italic mentjōr, denominal verb from mens,mentis (“mind”). The meaning "to lie" stems from a semantic shift "to be inventive, have second thoughts" > "to lie, conjure up".

Romanian follows this common Romance semantic shift (think>lie - mens/mentis > mentior) while Albanian doesn’t, and the elements of that shift (“think” and “lie”) end up different in the two languages. Thus,

English think and lie are:

  • In Romanian: gând(i) and minți
  • In Albanian: mend(oj) and gënjej

Some shift seems to have taken place here, so that there is a cross-correspondence between Romanian “lie” and Albanian “think”, and between Romanian “think” and Albanian “lie”. The first is no surprise, the two forms (minți and mendoj) have the same Latin root (mens/mentis), the different meanings being the result of the common Romance semantic shift that Romanian has followed while Albanian has avoided. But what about the second correspondence? That could be a shear coincidence, where it not for the fact that the two elements (gândi and gënjej) are paralleled by the other two.

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What are the chances that the Romanian gând(i) is a result of a semantic shift from the Albanian term?

(In that case, it would mean that Hungarian ”to think” is ultimately of Latin origin: gond < Rom. gând < Alb. gënjej < Vulg. Lat. ingannō < Lat. ganniō!)

  • 1
    Where are you seeing that inverse shift in Albanian? Gënjej only means 'to deceive' (a meaning it already had in Vulgar Latin, judging by the other Romance reflexes), not 'to think', and mendoj 'to think' never shifted to 'lie' in the first place.
    – Cairnarvon
    Sep 21 at 14:18
  • @Cairnarvon - I'll edit. You're right, "symmetrical shift" is wrong. I'll delete this for now.
    – cipricus
    Sep 21 at 14:24
  • @Cairnarvon - I have tried to fix it: the idea is that Romanian words for thought and lie may be semantically and morphologically (hence possibly etymologically) paralleled in Albanian in a (double) semantic shift.
    – cipricus
    Sep 21 at 15:44
  • 2
    It seems pretty clear that the oldest meaning of the gond cluster of words in Hungarian is 'care' and only secondarily 'think', and that this secondary meaning happens to be the one that made it into Romanian. If the borrowing went from Romanian to Hungarian it's hard to explain how that primary meaning was completely lost in Romanian, even before considering the plausibility of a semantic shift 'deceive' → 'care' and the formal difficulties like the origin of the -d-. It's also not obvious to me why Albanian is involved in this discussion at all.
    – Cairnarvon
    Sep 22 at 1:22
  • @Cairnarvon - The basic meaning of both gond and gând is "concern", not "care" as in "taking care", but what weighs on the mind, cf. Latin pēnsāre from which peser/penser (Fr.) etc. English "thought" also has that double connotation (dialectal, also in "thoughtful" etc). But that very fact that in both Hungarian and Romanian that structural double meaning is present pleads strongly against the Latin origin from inganno. - Romanian-Albanian connection is always useful to consider in problematic etymologies .
    – cipricus
    Sep 22 at 7:12


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