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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27
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8answers
3k views

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 ...
4
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2answers
888 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 ...
4
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0answers
68 views

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. ...
1
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1answer
63 views

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 ...
4
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3answers
115 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
62 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 ...
6
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1answer
214 views

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 ...
-1
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2answers
129 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 ...
2
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0answers
59 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", "...
1
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1answer
185 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" ...
7
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0answers
144 views

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 ...
-3
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2answers
161 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?
1
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1answer
126 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/Middle Iranian ...
-2
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2answers
224 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 ...
-2
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1answer
70 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.
-1
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3answers
183 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 ...
1
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1answer
82 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/? ...
11
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2answers
1k views

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 ...
0
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1answer
105 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 ...
4
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2answers
2k views

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 "...
5
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1answer
556 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
129 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. ...
4
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2answers
205 views

*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 ...
-2
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1answer
126 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)
-3
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2answers
157 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 *...
2
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0answers
56 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, ...
1
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1answer
122 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 ...
0
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2answers
164 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 ...
1
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1answer
115 views

Where did the word ending ar er ir in Spanish come fom?

When I was learning Spanish, I came across the fact that Spanish verbs have three classes: AR, ER, and IR. I notice that more of them have the AR verb ending. The verb endings are the same in Latin, ...
3
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2answers
136 views

Why can Japanese Godan verbs only have nine possible consonant sounds before the final -u?

The dictionary form of Japanese verbs always ends in a -u syllable. Ichidan (one row or single-step in German) verbs will always end in -る (-ru, e.g. 食べる, taberu, to eat) while godan (five rows or ...
4
votes
1answer
259 views

How might one swear in Proto-Indo-European?

Proto-Indo-European is an interesting topic. I'm fascinated by how it spread. But, I wonder how to use curse words. These words, like others, will probably be reconstructed from other languages: Latin,...
-4
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1answer
55 views

The “plague” and its transmission by “fleas”, or “flies”

"fly", Ger "Fliege" (the insect drosophila) could theoretically reflect an earlier *plag. It is linked with "to fly" though, to nobody's surprise. Old English flȳġe, flēoge (“a fly”), from Proto-...
7
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1answer
88 views

Practical ways to verify etymology

What online resources are available to trace back the origins of words? Ideally, this would be a searchable web dictionary like Wiktionary but listing the etymological chain along with some sort of ...
0
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1answer
101 views

Could the latin word terrere be related to the Hebrew word תִּירָא (tira)?

The English word "terror" is derived from the Latin "terrere", meaning "frighten". I noticed in reading a passage in Isaiah the Hebrew equivalent of "don't be afraid" which is אַל־תִּירָא ('al tira' - ...
2
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1answer
103 views

Does etymology have any role in everyday speech?

Does etymology have any role in everyday speech? For example, do common language practices preserve semantic connotations that are influenced by etymology? A simple example from Oxford Dictionary of ...
1
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1answer
114 views

Do words Deus and idea share the root? [closed]

https://www.etymonline.com/word/idea gives the definition of the idea as "archetype, concept of a thing in the mind of God," I was wondering if they come from the same word.
3
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1answer
347 views

Etymology of “Talo” (Finnish for “house”). Can it be a cognate of Thalamus?

The word Talo in Finnish means house. According to the wiktionary, it might be etymologically related to talas (boat-shelter). I was wondering if the word might have a common etymology with Greek ...
5
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2answers
2k views

Why is “dyadic” the only word with the prefix “dy-” for “two”?

I learned that the word "dyadic", a word opposed to monadic, is written with a y. My etymology sources indicates it comes from "Dyad", which means "pair", "couple", "double". However, every other ...
1
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2answers
172 views

Is Latin “ulula” cognate with hindi उल्लू (“ullu”)?

Hindi उल्लू /ʊl.luː/ (derived from Sanskrit उलूक /uluːka/) appears superficially very similar to Latin ulula (both meaning "owl"). Are these words cognate?
1
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0answers
58 views

Understanding the etymology of Persian “farāmoş”, to forget

I'm having a hard time understanding the etymology of the Persian verb farâmuš kardan, meaning to forget in Persian. The infnitive kardan is often used to make verbs from nouns and adjectives, so for ...
-3
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1answer
112 views

How did the cross-linguistic univerbation 'nothing/not/none/no + less' semantically shift to signify 'despite'?

Several European languages have (false?) cognate adverbs with the meaning of 'nevertheless' (and 'nonetheless') built from words meaning "nothing/not/none/no" and "less". despite something that ...
3
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2answers
95 views

Etymology of the word “šowhar” in Persian

I am looking for etymology of the word شوهر in Persian language, I looked in wiktionary and two other dictionaries but found nothing. šowhar means "husband" in modern persian. https://en.wiktionary....
4
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1answer
96 views

What is a good etymological dictionary for the Persian language?

There are dozens of etymological dictionaries for Persian, has somebody compared them, and if yes could you recommend me a good one?
2
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1answer
91 views

Was there a Proto-Germannic root of “miskunn”

I was not able to find an etymology of ON "miskunn" within PrG. Is the first syllable a prefix "mis-" indicating any "wrong kunn, lack of kunn" or a deformed "midi-" as in E "com-passion", G "Mit-leid"...
2
votes
3answers
191 views

Common root 'to gather' and 'together'

I just saw this insightful and touching video by John Green where he makes the connection between 'to gather' and 'together'. One could say "let's gather at the bus stop" for instance, causing the ...
0
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1answer
83 views

How did 'sitting' semantically shift to mean 'properness'?

What semantic notions underlie 'sit' and 'properness'? The following words for propriety hail from the Proto-Indo-European *sed- like Spanish & Portugese sentar French seoir English 'sit well' ...
0
votes
1answer
140 views

What semantic notions underlie PIE *meh₂d- ('wet') and Proto-Germanic *matōną, *matjaną (“to feed, eat”)?

I was reading the etymology of amadouer when I lighted on these attested morphemes: Etymology From Middle French amadouer (“to coax, lure”), from a- + *madouer (“to lure, give food to”), from ...
1
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3answers
453 views

Is the Malay “garam” (salt) related to the Latin “garum” (fish sauce)?

The Malay/Indonesian word for salt garam is surprisingly similar to the Latin word for the Roman fish sauce garum. Since garum was made from fermented salted fish, is there an etymological ...
7
votes
1answer
214 views

Are English 'gay' and Norwegian 'gøy' cognates?

Norwegian gøy means "fun" in both Bokmål and Nynorsk. Does this word have anything to do with English gay? Wiktionary says gay comes ultimately from Proto-Germanic ganhuz "sudden" via Old French gai ...
1
vote
1answer
72 views

The Methatesis in “scope” vs “to show”

I would like to hear some ideas that can explain Greek *σκέπτομαι, σκοπός "watcher, look-out, spy, mark, goal" from Proto-Indo-European *skep-ye-, from a metathesis of *speḱ-. Cognate to ...

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