Questions tagged [etymology]

The study of the history of words including their origins and the changes they've undergone through time.

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83 views

What is the origin of the word assassin?

I discussed this recently with some friends and different explanations regarding the words etymology were mentioned. I did some research and confirmed these two: from Arab. aššāšīn "hashish ...
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Relationship between Geneva and gin?

I've been curiously browsing wikipedia today. The word Geneva, besides the city and Canton, is also used to refer to a type of Gin that's made there, and to any other kind of Gin as a generified word. ...
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What is an example of a “clean” rebracketing joke? [closed]

I am preparing a programming course and I want to find a strong way to communicate the importance of spacing. In Saturday Night Live's Celebrity Jeopardy, Sean Connery misreads "An Album Cover&...
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Is the English word “for” etymologically related to the Greek word “γὰρ” (gar)?

Given that γ (gamma) may have been pronounced as a voiced palatal fricative, it's perhaps not too much of a stretch to imagine that morphing into an unvoiced dental fricative.
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Did Old English have a similar adverb phrase or interjection like “of course”?

I'm writing a story that heavily uses archaic or unusual English words, with a focus of non-Latin, non-French and non-Anglo-Norman derived words and how English might work without them. I found very ...
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117 views

Etymology of ぐるぐる

Since it's written in Hiragana, I presume it is likely not a recent loan word. However, its pronounciation bears resemblance to "軲轆", a Mandarin word meaning wheel--similar to ぐるぐる's meaning ...
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101 views

How does Bengali “choe” (ছয়, meaning “six”) derive from a root like “ṣáṣ” (Vedic Sanskrit) or “*s(w)eḱs” (PIE)?

As a layperson I can see how the Bengali numbers relate to those in European languages I can think of, but it has ‘choe’ where I would expect a sh- sound. What are the mechanics behind this ?
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How to understand the etymology from the American Heritage Dictionary?

I look up the word 'frangible'. Its etymology shows [Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin frangibilis, from Latin frangere, to break; see bhreg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots....
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Origin of “will” in Germanic, wouldn't it be subjunctive?

Small print: This is language specific about English, but tangential to Germanic to a certain degree that is likely out of ELU's scope. . As a follow-up to this Q and several ones like it about the ...
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Are synonyms evidence of cultural merges between ethnicities?

The word "Chance" has a few translations to German: Chance, Zufall, Gelegenheit, etc. The German Chance is borrowed from Latin, where it developed from cadere "to fall". I can assume the word Zufall ...
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What underlying semantic notions connect 'campus' to the PIE root *kam-p- (to bend)?

Univ. Texas's page on kam-p-   'to bend' states: 'Semantic Field: to Bend'. Then I saw campus (plain, campus, open field) listed, but what semantic notions underlie it and 'to bend'? I can ...
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Is Geoffrey cognate with these words?

I have an interesting question about a name that I looked up: Geoffrey. I saw that it is from Middle English, and is a compound name derived from the Germanic words *gautaz and *frithuz. Both of these ...
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133 views

Why does “also” in German and in English denote different things?

There are some words in the German language that may seem to be familiar to a native English speaker, but in the end, it turns out that they are so-called "false friends" and have different meanings. ...
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84 views

Isn't the supposed development in German “schön” > “schon” typologically unlikely

schon - yet, already schön - well, nice, pretty, beautiful Wiktionary has schon from an old German word equivalent to modern schön. I think this is typologically unlikely, though of course my sample ...
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Is the “w” in flower parasitic? [closed]

The OED shows various forms for the word in related languages, including a few with the "w", but it is not clear to me how those are related, and how the "w" arose. I have seen examples of words that ...
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Given that so many Indo-European peoples called themselves “Veneti” or the like, can we conclude that it was the endonym of PIE people as well?

For instance: Veneti (Gaul) - Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veneti_(Gaul)) Vistula Veneti - Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vistula_Veneti) Adriatic Veneti - Wikipedia (https://...
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-wise, -mente, -ment: How many languages use the “mind” metaphor for adjectives made adverbs?

When I noticed that English, Spanish, Italian, and French use the "mind" metaphor to turn certain adjectives into adverbs (not all, cf "-ly" from English). That is, as it was explained to me by a ...
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Did a single word derived from “de fenestra” exist in European languages prior to the Defenestration of Prague?

Many European languages have a single word derived from the Latin prepositional phrase de fenestra (“out from a window” or “down from a window”) meaning “the act of throwing someone out a window.” ...
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“She” and “they” in West Germanic languages

In English, the third person singular feminine subject pronoun (she) and the third person plural subject pronoun (they) are phonetically different. However, they are phonetically the same in some West ...
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Aura, Aurum, Aurora & *h₂ews-

Good morning, I am a scholar from a different field, trying to gain insight into the etymological connection between aura and aurum (air and gold). How do they relate? I have found a connection ...
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Resources for Indonesian/Austronesian etymology

I'm looking for online resources for Austronesian languages etymology. KBBI doesn't provide any etymology, which is astonishing for such a notable and official dictionary. The only source I've found ...
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How did this soft mutation happened?

The mutations in the Welsh language were originated from elements that came before words and affected them etc. How does the fact that a certain noun is the direct object of a sentence trigger a soft ...
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Is the connection between 'right' in the sense of direction and concepts like 'correct' limited to Indo-European languages?

I'm now familiar with enough Indo-European languages to know in almost all of them there's an etymological connection or outright homonymy between the word(s) for 'right' in the sense of direction and ...
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2answers
905 views

Words that only differ in tones

In indoeuropean languages the words that sound similar often denote related concepts. Is the situation similar in tonal languages? Are there languages that use a different tone to make an adjective ...
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Etymology of initial “g-” in Sicilian “giurana” (frog)

Most Romance words for "frog" derive from Latin rana (e.g. es. rana, it. rana, pt. rã. See also va. renoc ("toad")). However, an unexpected initial g- appears in the cognates of several Gallo-: fr. ...
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What is the relation between Old English fæsl and Proto-Indo-European *pes-?

The word in Proto-Indo-European *pes means penis. The other word "fæsl" means (according to oldenglishtranslator.uk) "seed [or] offspring". I can kind of see what the relationship could be (changing ...
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How come the Romanian verb for love iubi does not originate from the Latin iubeo

I took a course in diachronic linguistics during my MA, but it focused on grammaricalizations in English so I’m not at all versed in etymology of Romance Languages. To me, however, it seems more ...
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63 views

Is the Sumerian king list etymologically understood?

While some names in the Sumerian King List contain standard Sumerian words (e.g. "sipad" : shepherd, "dumu" : son, "zid" : true, "en" : king), I haven't found a comprehensive translation/etymological ...
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Why is the word “wherefore” not “whatfore” and the word “therefore” not “thatfore” and related anomalies

There is a pronominal adverb in many germanic languages that is a conjunction of the descendants of the proto-germanic words *hwar (where) + *furi (for/fore) which means something very similar to "for ...
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136 views

Are the Paris's names “City of Light” and “Lutetia” connected?

Paris is called City of Light. I wonder whether this name could come from ancient name of the city Λευκοτεκία (Ptolemy). Λευκος in Greek means light or white. And τεκ- root means "stone" (cognates ...
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123 views

Whence אֶת between partners' names?

The word אֶת /et/ is used with the following meanings: In Biblical Hebrew, it means "with". In modern Hebrew it survives, but only with a complement-of-the-preposition pronoun suffix: "with me", "...
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266 views

Why were there two words for love in Proto-Indo-European?

I did some research on the root of the English word 'love' and the French word 'amour' to attempt to find the roots of them. The farthest I can find back is two Proto-Indo-European words, "Lewb" ...
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Etymology (?) of the “shush” gesture

I'm curious about the origin of and explanation for the place-index-finger-to-closed-lips gesture. All I've found so far is this unattributed assertion that it dates at least to the era of Classical ...
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2answers
174 views

What is the extent of the 'etymological fallacy'?

Does folk etymology based on contemporary definitions of a word necessarily involve the etymological fallacy? And does the etymological fallacy apply to speech and poetry, or just to argumentation?
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Etymology of Slovene vrtnica “rose”. Can it be the Slavic reflex of PIE *wr̥dʰos “sweetbriar”?

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/...
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Which semantic shifts befit the legal meaning of 'consideration'?

If I had to guess from Typology by Blank (1999), specialization of meaning? Frederick Pollock. Principles Of Contract. (1902) p. 170. p. 220/400 here.         The name of ...
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What does the Na mean in Nahuatl [closed]

Wondering what the etymology of this word is, can't find it anywhere. I am looking for the full etymology of the word Nahuatl, but specifically just the Na part.
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Etymological Fallacy

What is actually wrong with using Etymology to infer a word's meaning? I mean other than semantics( or more subtle meaning, nuance) of what other use could studying etymology be. I cannot see the ...
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110 views

Origin of Japanese particles だい(dai), かい(kai)

I was wondering about the origin of these emphatic interrogative particles in Japanese. It seems very likely that they are related to the more typical forms だ and か, but what led to the postfixed /i/? ...
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Reconstructed PIE grammar? Could we be able to speak in Proto-European?

I'm interested in etymology, so I see often the root of a word shown as a reconstructed PIE root, but is it only a set of words, or could we speak this reconstructed language? (even if it's only a ...
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107 views

Latin jūs and sūcus, and the words in Romance languages

Why is French jus said to be from Latin jūs or iūs, while Spanish jugo is said to be from the Latin sūcus? I don't know if there's a link between sūcus and jūs, but jus and jugo look like they are ...
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French letters in English

The English language has a great amount of borrowings from French. But why aren't such letters as "ç"(façade) and "é"(café, protégé) changed if they don't exist in the English alphabet and there are "...
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What is the meaning of the Latin names of grammatical cases (in general, not in Latin)?

I cannot find any source explaining the Latin names of grammatical cases. I am especially curious in the names of the less common cases, like in Finnish: nominative genitive accusative partitive ...
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1answer
131 views

Why does anger has something to do with spleen in both Chinese and English?

The English word spleen has two meanings in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, an organ near the stomach which produces and cleans the body's blood. a feeling of anger and disagreement. ...
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*h₁éḱwos > ἵππος, (Aeolian) ἴκκος

(in short) What's the epigraphical support to the Aeolian word ἴκκος ? I can't find it in the (very limited) data I can consult. (full story) The history of the Greek word ἵππος ("horse") can be ...
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142 views

Can English “dream” be a cognate to Latin “dormatio” and Russian “dröma” “sleep”?

I could not find any relevant information on the internet except the PIE had the root dre- for sleep (Vasmer)
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178 views

What is the Proto-Indo-European root word for electricity?

When I looked at Wiktionary for the word electricity, I saw that it came from the Ancient Greek word "elektron", and saw that it was possibly from Sanskrit ulka, which came from what appears to be *...
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60 views

Did the word circle come from the PIE word *kr-kr, which was said to be the Proto-Indo-European word for circular?

When I was reading on Wiktionary, I found something interesting. The word for circle was traced back to a Greek word which was said to be "of Pre-Greek origin". However, I read about the word carcer, ...
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125 views

Why is it “untenable” and not “untainable” in English?

I am aware that words like "obtain," "retain," and "contain" are related to the root "tenere" meaning "to have." What (if anything) determines if the "ten" goes to "tain" in English? We have words ...
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2answers
177 views

Are there any Latin and (ancient) Hebrew words with common origins?

More generally, is there any compelling evidence for any common roots between early Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages? There are almost necessarily some words that are not too dissimilar ...

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