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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85 views

Are Russian words пять (five), пясть (fist), пятка (heel) related? What about English “fist”?

I wonder whether the PIE word for five in fact meant "fist", in other words, when people counted, they closed their fingers and when they obtained the closed fist, it was "five"? ...
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118 views

Why is six and seven so similar in many languages?

Six (English) = Sechs (German) = Seis (Spanish) = Shesh (Hebrew) = Sita (Arabic) = Shest (Russian) Seven = Sieben = Siete = Sheva = Sabaa (~= Sem in Russian). So Germanic, Latin, Sematic and perhaps ...
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What is the etymological difference bewteen ب ر ك and ص ل و‎ roots?

The roots ب ر ك (BRK) and ص ل و‎ (ṢLW) shares a common meaning related to the act of blessing. Is the first one related to the knees, while the later one is rather connected to the notion of eulogy? (...
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What are the descendants of the PIE suffix “-n̥kʷos” in the Czech language if there are any? [duplicate]

Me and my friend would like to know whether there is any PIE suffix "-n̥kʷos" descendats in the czech language, we feel like "-uha" in "ostruha" could be it, in other ...
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What are the descendants of the PIE suffix “-n̥kʷos” in the Czech language if there are any?

Me and my friend would like to know whether there is any PIE suffix "-n̥kʷos" descendats in the czech language, we feel like "-uha" in "ostruha" could be it, in other ...
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0answers
49 views

Case Study: Classifying the origin of a word

Let's say we have a Country 'A' that spoke a Language 'A'. In Language 'A' (LA) they had the word "Shamish" (IPA: /ʃamɪʃ/) A Language 'X' (LX) is gaining ground in Country 'A' and they have ...
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88 views

The similarities between English “very” and Talish “ver”

Talysh is a "vulnerable" northwestern Iranian language. There's this word "ver" in this language which means something like "of high quantity" which is quite similar to ...
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38 views

Latin suffixes -or and -idus, is there a correspondence?

In Latin (and daughter languages), there seems to be a correspondence between nouns of the third declension in -or/-us, -oris denoting a quality, and adjectives of the Ist class in -idus,a,um denoting ...
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108 views

Is there a reason for language names only sometimes corresponding with the word for people who live there or people who speak that language?

Some language names are also the names of the people who speak that language, for example Russian, Norwegian, Italian, and German. But others are not, for example Dutch, French, English, and Spanish. ...
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73 views

Do we have a term for priori knowledge in linguistics?

Broadly speaking, these terms have been introduced throughout history to categorize knowledge: A priori, rationalism, deductive reasoning => meaning that we gain new knowledge, only by using ...
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How widespread across language families is the root, krt, meaning cut/short?

How widespread across language families is the root, krt, meaning cut/short? This root is prevalent across the Indo-European and Semitic language families. It may have spread across languages like ...
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85 views

Proto-Uralic *kämä vs Akkadian kamūnu

The English Wikipedia article for "cumin" mentions All of these ultimately derive from Akkadian 𒂵𒈬𒉡 (kamūnu). In Hungarian, caraway seeds are called köménymag, keménymag where the word &...
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107 views

Etymology of “fiamma” in Italian [duplicate]

I don't speak Italian at all, but I was a bit surprised that the word "flame" in Italian is "fiamma" (IPA: /ˈfjam.ma/) (to compare with flamme in French, flamma in Latin and llama ...
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(Ancient Greek) Dogs and Emptiness, κύων and κενόω, related?

I've been curious about the concepts of emptiness and dogs. I have independently been exploring these and there seem to be some theological/philosophical convergence between Joshua and Caleb from the ...
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(Latin) spondeo > (Spanish) esposas?

I am looking for the exact history of the Spanish word esposas ("handcuffs") and its connection with the Latin word spondeo ("promise"). I read several times on the web the ...
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Why grammaticalized perfective aspect marker is reduced to be used only in narrative style?

I am looking at a set of ballistic verbs like nak, phenk 'throw' in a minor Indo Aryan language spoken in Dravidian vicinity, where one verb of the set is reduced to light verb with perfective meaning,...
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116 views

What can limit the plausibility of the Arabic “š-k-l”(ش ك ل) being in the same lineage as the German “gestalt” via its assumed PIE ancestor “*stel”?

They have near-fully overlapping meanings (I would be going out on a limb to say fully equivalent translations) with both the Arabic and German words having their primary use in expressing the meaning ...
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80 views

Semitic and Hebrew etymology

Semitic has historically been used to describe ancient languages spanning from Oman to Morocco through Egypt and Somalia. Today, Antisemitic is different to it's etymology, it doesnt refer to berber ...
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61 views

Einbilden vs. Imagine

One of the German words for Imagine is Einbilden, which I believe literally translates to "in-picture". This made me think of the fact that Imagine itself has the prefix Im-, which (together ...
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121 views

Why the French 'noir' has perspired in so many languages?

Having a look at wiki's page about Nordic noir genre, I realised that this same word 'noir' is used in many other languages (even in for ex. Farsi with نوآر). Someone has an idea why this word has ...
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Did Eureka lose its H?

Archimedes famously proclaimed Eureka, I have found it, but should the word itself proclaim I have lost my H? According to wiktionary and wikipedia, Eureka simply comes from the greek εὕρηκα, perfect ...
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How commonly are sheep affiliated with righteousness, uprightness?

羊 (sheep) in Chinese and Japanese that imported this loan word, is the semantic component of 義 (rectitude). Please see this question's title. I'm unschooled in hermeneutics or theology, but I know of ...
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Origin of term “Pudlink”

My grandfather used to use the term “pudlink” (POOD-link) as an endearing term for a baby. He was Slovak, and also spoke Czech (my grandmother is Czech, but doesn’t know the origin of the term). Where ...
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Is anything known about the origin of the hard “g” in “guénti” in Santiago, Cape Verdean Creole?

There is a word "guénti" /'gɛn ti/ in the Santiago dialect of Cape Verdean Creole, which is used to mean "people" or "you people/you all". It clearly comes from the ...
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1answer
69 views

Are there geographic or cultural patterns in surname etymologies?

I was reading in Wikipedia that the origins of European surnames can be classified into categories like patronymics, occupational, toponymics and nicknames. If this classification is old or incomplete ...
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153 views

Are false cognates something languages tend to create?

It could easily be my own bias but I feel like false cognates are suspiciously common. Do similar meanings tend to acquire similar sounds in language evolution? Have there been any studies whether ...
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330 views

What to call an adjective that is a participle of a verb that is no longer used?

While answering the question How often do native speakers use the word “to scathe”? Is it OK if I use it instead of “to injure”?, I described "scathing" and "unscathed" as "...
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59 views

Is etymological fallacy a very specific or broadly defined phenomena?

Does arguing that a usage of a word doesn't match the current, modern definition, count as etymological fallacy? What I'm getting at is, if I say a usage isn't right and should be corrected, and ...
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71 views

Is by - near - related to bi - double?

Is by - near - related to bi - double? I tried going through wiktionary to find out, but to no avail. I can tell that 'bi-' is from latin, and there is no mention of 'by' being from latin. However, in ...
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Is the Ethiopian word “falash[a]” related to the words Philistine or Palestine?

I apologize I don't know how to read Amharic or Ge'ez well (at all) [I am most certainly only an amateur at linguistics], and my Hebrew and Arabic are also poor. But I can't help but wonder if the the ...
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112 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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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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163 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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109 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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141 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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89 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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138 views

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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131 views

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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34 views

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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