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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3k views

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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105 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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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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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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1answer
327 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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1answer
48 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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243 views

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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1answer
102 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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89 views

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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1answer
154 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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107 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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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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88 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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122 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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104 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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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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1answer
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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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9answers
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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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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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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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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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1answer
128 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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1answer
297 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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178 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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152 views

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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299 views

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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79 views

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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3answers
216 views

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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125 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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110 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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