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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How did the romance languages' feminine/masculine genders develop?

How did French, Spanish, Italian, end up with gendered nouns? The Wikipedia page Proto-Indo-European nominals says Originally, there probably were only an animate (masculine/feminine) and an ...
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54 views

Distinction between Chemistry and Alchemy in Arabic and Farsi languages

According to Wikipedia, in Europe the semantic distinction between the rational science of chimia and the occult alchimia arose in the early 18th century. So it seems like there was a need to separate ...
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In Search of an Etymological Name Database

Do such things even exist? Attempts at searches turn up rather limited and uninformative sites dedicated to parental demographics, and that's not what I'm looking for. Specifically, I'm looking for a ...
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şapka and шапка - which way did the hat travel? [closed]

The russian and turkish words for hat : şapka and шапка are very similar. It makes me suspect that one language borrowed it from the other. Which way did the hat travel?
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What is the origin if the “i” in “Sanskrit”?

What is the origin if the "i" in the language name "Sanskrit" (instead of "Sanskṛt"). Is this an epenthetic vowel inserted by English-speaking authors or by Hindi-...
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Why did the softness of the L in the OCS word “велми” reflect so unpredictably into today's languages?

The OCS word "велми", meaning "very" and surviving in several Slavic languages today, is quite a conundrum to me in terms of how it has reflected into the living languages of today....
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95 views

How did the “c” in “et cetera” end up being pronounced like an s sound?

I was discussing an odd pronunciation of etc. with a friend when he told me that technically the most correct way to pronounce it based off Latin pronunciation rules would be something more like et ...
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Ultimate Etymology of “Ides”?

I recall reading somewhere that Latin idus "ides, 15th day of the month/full moon" was ultimately derived, via Etruscan, from Sumerian itu "month". Is this plausible, or is it ...
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How is the Filipino expression “salamat” related to the Arabic?

Salamat in Filipino means “thank you”. In the Arabic form, the word is in the feminine plural salāmat سلامت from the singular salāmah . Salamat in Arabic is equivalent to peace and blessings (a ...
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Are infinitives in descendant languages and 3rd-preson singular forms of verbs in PIE related?

For example, why is it shown in Wiktionary that the etymology of such words like eat, есть (which means eat in Russian)comes from 3-rd person singular form *h₁édti in PIE? Are they really related or I ...
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203 views

What is the the etymological origin of the name Calvin?

Doing research (question was also asked on The Latin StackExchange Website) I came across the name having a French origin meaning "bald". However, I also came across that the name has a ...
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pronunciation of word origins [closed]

there are many sources for indo-europian languages' etymology but I don't know where to find one which shows the pronunciation of the word's origins. for example, I can't understand how the given ...
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The connection between ركن and corner [closed]

The arabic word ركن /rukn/ and the English word corner /ˈkɔɹnɚ/. Is there any connections between them?
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What is the difference between a borrowed and a derived Word in Linguistics?

When looking at Etymologies of words, I noticed that there are "borrowed" words and "derived" words. "Borrowed" is, I think, just taken from a different language, but ...
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What is the origin of “property” meaning physical things that are owned?

In another forum I was reading this answer which makes the following (unsourced) claim: Locke's way of putting it was that the material a person gathers and develops through labor are a property of ...
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Can the PIE roots with similar meaning and difference in gʷ/w and gʷʰ/w in fact be related?

For instance, I wonder whether roots *gʷʰér- "burn, heat" and *wer- "burn, heat" are related, as well as *gʷer- "mountain, height" and *wers- "mountain, height"....
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Linguistic significance of my name? [closed]

I’ve always asked my mother how she chose the spelling of my middle name RēNeé but she simply didn’t know the reasoning behind it because it was a middle name that had been passed down to the females ...
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Connection between “wiseguy” and the Cantonese slang 古惑仔

"Wiseguy" can mean a made man in the mafia or a smart ass who acts like they are smarter than others. What I find interesting is that the Cantonese/Chinese slang term 古惑仔(Gu Wac Zai) has ...
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51 views

Is Proto-Uralic piŋз “hand, palm” related to PIE pn̥kʷstis “fist”, pénkʷe “five”?

There was Proto-Uralic piŋз "hand, palm": https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pivo#Etymology_2 I wonder whether it was related to the PIE words.
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How do compound verbs develop?

There's a very interesting (to me at least) example of compound verbs, in this wiki page on Serial Verbs: सत्तू खा लिया sattū khā liyā parched.grain eat take.pfv "...
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Are PIE *suHnús “son” and *snusós “daughter-in-law” related?

One of the Proto-Indo-European words for "son" appears to have been *suHnús (Skt. sūnú-, Goth. sunus, etc.). The word for "daughter-in-law" is reconstructed as *snusós (Lat. nurus, ...
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Why aren't English “flame” and Croatian “plam” considered related?

Why aren't Croatian "plam" (meaning "flame") and English "flame" considered to be related, or at least possibly related? They mean exactly the same, and they seem to fit ...
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What are the incentives for neologisms (new words)?

My best explanation of why new words come into existence is: Economy: a new word may allow you to say more with fewer words/syllables/characters (or in less time) Articulacy: a new word may allow you ...
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Germanic words together with Romance words

Do combinations of words of Germanic origin with words of Latin origin have any influence on the level or register of language? I can think of examples like: exquisite work, unwavering resolution, ...
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What is the origin of certain Hungarian suffixes?

I have a question about the etymology (within the Uralic family) of three Hungarian morphemes Accusative -t- suffix: Hungarian has an accusative in -t- (eg. fíu, fíut), which has no cognates in any ...
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137 views

Etymology of latin suffix -idus

What is the (probably Indo-European) origin of the latin suffix -idus, as in "acidus"? Are there any known cognates?
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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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190 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?

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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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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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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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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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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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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103 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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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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134 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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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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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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132 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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114 views

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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98 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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