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 was backbiting connected to biting in the back in so many languages and cultures?

Upon research, I can only trace the etymology of backbiting to old English bæcslitol and middle English bacbitunge. Plus the sport of bear-baiting from the twelfth century, where tied-up bears were ...
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In what sense are terms for “white/shining” and for “swamp/marsh” “semantically connected” in many languages?

Although a closed question, reading THIS we find a link to Wictionary with the text: From Proto-Albanian *baltā (“marsh”), hypothetically from a Proto-Indo-European *bʰolHto- (“white > marsh”), a ...
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Is the word for “brother-in-law” in Germanic languages related to the Aramaic/Syriac גיס?

Here is the word for "brother-in-law" in various modern Germanic languages: schwager (German), shvugger (Yiddish), swaer (Afrikaans), svoger (Norweigan/Danish), sogor (Croatian), zwager (...
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Compound English word with most etymologies

There are many English words with two different core etymologies, often Latin + Greek. For example: Claustrophobia – from the Latin claustrum meaning "confined space" and Greek φόβος (...
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Prefix a(n)- in Sanskrit and English

In learning about the three Buddhist marks of existence - referred to by the Sanskrit words anatman (lack of permanent self), anitya (impermanence) and dukkha (suffering) - I was interested to learn ...
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Is Medea not the root of media?

Google definitions states that media has it roots in: late 19th century: shortening of modern Latin tunica (or membrana ) media ‘middle sheath (or layer)’. This really did not make much sense to me, ...
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How were “bratrъ/bratъ” and “sestra” formed in PSl?

The PIE r-stem words seem to have lost the final -r in PSl: OCS mati, dъšti, and how some words which had -r (and -l) in final position preserve this consonant in the middle of words in slavic?
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Origin of Italian plurals

Some sources say that italian plurals come from the nominative case, so "italiano" has the plural "italiani", and "italiana" has the plural "italiane". However ...
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What is the etymology of Wanona (said to be the name of Kullervo's sister meaning “weeping”)?

Tolkien coined the name Wanōna (also Welinōre, Wanōra, Oanōra) in his Story of Kullervo. It's totally possible they belong to Tolkien's constructed languages. But I think the etymology is still ...
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Why is the word “war” in Romance languages predominantly of Germanic origin instead of Latin?

I wonder why in all Romance languages the word "war" ("guerra", with their multiple intonations) is a term that comes from Germanic languages, and that no modern language resembles ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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