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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Semantic loans; words borrowing a meaning already there?

What exactly is a semantic loan, how can a word borrow a meaning it already has? I am trying to figure out whether there are any limitations (can we choose any morphemes) on the recipient word and the ...
George Ntoulos's user avatar
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Etymology of Persian suffix 'ـش-' (-eš)?

This suffix equivalent to English '-tion' or '-ment' occurs in many Persian words such as ستایش (setâyeš, "glory"), etc. But its ultimate etymology cannot be found anywhere. Wiktionary stops ...
AehkGuu's user avatar
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Are there Romance parallel descendants to Italian "cicalare" and Romanian "cicăli(re)"?

I am looking for the etymology of the Romanian verb a cicăli (to make reproaches repeatedly, to nag), which is reported of unknown origin, and I have found an almost identical word in Italian: ...
cipricus's user avatar
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When were the Greek names for these countries first used?

I'm analyzing this Greek prophecy which is contested to be from 1053 or 1753. I've seen claims that it uses Greek words anachronistic to 1053: Now over the years I began to doubt if the dating of the ...
c0d3rman's user avatar
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The etymological dictionary of Persian by Mohammad Hassandust

I'm considering purchasing this book, but it's not available in ebook format, and the price is rather steep. Therefore, I'm eager to ensure its scientific accuracy. I've noticed numerous papers citing ...
KamranNef's user avatar
2 votes
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65 views

Related words persisting longer in a language than their etymology would otherwise suggest

I was considering the “a” prefix as in afoot, aflame, alight. That prefix is largely in disuse in conversational English. But two notable exceptions, “asleep” and “awake” make me wonder if there’s a ...
Rand's user avatar
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Nations' names for themselves with foreign etymologies

TL;DR: are there any cases of nations/ethnic groups, whose name for themselves comes from a language that is foreign to them? [I feel like I am missing a term here] Many nations have a name for ...
Bennet's user avatar
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Did the Phoenician letter 𐤄 have any meaning on its own or in earlier writing systems?

Obviously Phoenician was an alphabetical writing system, where characters combine phonetically to build words. But Wikipedia claims (implies?) both that the Phoenician letter "he" evolved ...
ShapeOfMatter's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
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What is the name of the first known word from which the current word is derived?

I'm interested in the name of the concept that defines the word from which another word comes. For example, "Guild" comes from the German "Gilde". What is the name of the word &...
Fedor Pasynkov's user avatar
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Has the spread of English removed any phonemes or characteristics from pre-existing languages?

I know there's already an answered question on here about English adding sounds and characteristics to languages, but I was wondering if there were many examples of the removal of intricacies from pre-...
meg's user avatar
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Origin of "viking"

Is there any reason to discount a connection between "viking" and the Greek transliterated word "oikos"? The Norse word shoes up in English words such as sandwich, and the Greek ...
Mark Henrichs's user avatar
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Are there clear exceptions to the alleged universality of "alphabet" as a term used in all languages

In the book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick there is a bold claim: In all the languages of earth there is only one word for alphabet (alfabet, alfabeto, алфавит, ...
Brian Z's user avatar
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3 answers
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Spurious Fs' spawning

As advised, I am posting a separate question, but I still think it is a better fit for linguistics (because of phonetics and phonology); feel free to migrate to latin SE. Famagusta is supposed to be a ...
George Ntoulos's user avatar
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I used to know a Belgian guy who would say "Hoy!" exactly the same way Filipinos do. Is there some kind of historical connection or just coincidence?

He was French Belgian. Is that a word they commonly say, or was he just a weirdo? If the former, are these Belgians somehow using the same etymologically identical "hoy" as Filipinos? How ...
Alexander's user avatar
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Can Latin migrō-migrāre and/or meō-meāre be the origin of Romanian "merge" - "mere" (to go, walk)?

Trying to plead that this is not off-topic here: I am trying to ask a theoretical question about the rules behind the selection between opposing hypotheses. I don't want to ask something of the form &...
cipricus's user avatar
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Does the Arabic word for sheep come from booty or is it the other way round?

The Arabic word for sheep, غَنَم, is cognate with the word for booty/loot, غَنِيمَة. Does the word for sheep come from the word for loot or is it the other way round, presumably because of the type/...
Apoorv's user avatar
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Is the Hungarian word "pirít" (to burn) a borrowing from Indo-European word for fire (*peh2wr)?

I am wondering, is it possible that the Hungarian word pirít ‘to burn’ is a relatively-recent borrowing from an Indo-European language, from *peh₂wr- ‘fire’? Obviously, it would have to happen after ...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
38 votes
1 answer
8k views

Is there any evidence that the modern word for "bear" is an euphemism which replaced the original taboo word?

I have read and heard many times the old linguistic story about the modern word for "bear": Slavic: medvěd, niedźwiedź, ведмідь, ... "honey-eater" Germanic: bär, bear, björn, ... &...
Honza Zidek's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
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Is “actual” both a false friend and a cognate?

English definition of “actual”: existing in fact; typically as contrasted with what was intended, expected, or believed. Spanish definition of “actual”: current, present, contemporary These are ...
Felix's user avatar
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Are the Croatian word "struna" (string of a musical instrument) and the English word "string" related? [closed]

So, are the Croatian word "struna" (string of a musical instrument) and the English word "string" related? And, if so, why does the English word contain -ng, while the Croatian ...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
321 views

Is "alpha-" and "-bet", in the word "alphabet", related to the first two letters "A" (alpha) and "B" (beta)? [closed]

I was reading the book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. Towards the beginning (third paragraph) of chapter three, titled Two Wordbooks, the author writes - The alphabet, ...
Anirban Chakraborty's user avatar
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Languages where the word for addict references submission

I noticed in Dutch the word for "addict" includes the word "slave". Namely "verslaafde" wherein "slaaf" is slave. One might say the word as a whole suggests ...
Koert van Kleef's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
111 views

How did خشاب become the Persian word for magazine?

In Iran magazine (in a gun) is called خشاب (kheshab). I tried to find a relation to another language but I failed. The only thing I found is that خشب (khashb) means wood in Arabic. In Arabic magazine ...
Snack Exchange's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
118 views

What's the correct etymology of Benin?

From etymonline: former West African kingdom, from the Bini people, whose name is perhaps related to Arabic bani "sons." From Wikipedia article for Edo people: The name "Benin" (...
Snack Exchange's user avatar
-4 votes
1 answer
50 views

Why does old english niman from PGmc *nemaną, have "i"?

Why does old english niman from PGmc *nemaną, have "i" ?
Вася Антонов's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
190 views

Is it a coincidence that both Italian and German use third person feminine pronouns for formal second-person address?

In both Italian and German, the third person feminine pronouns ("lei" and "Sie," respectively) also serve as the formal second person pronoun. Etymologically, is it a coincidence ...
Eric's user avatar
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What recent (since 2014) work is there on the origin of the Indo-European 1st person singular nominative ego (etc.)?

I have an article by Hamp from 2011 and one by Blažek from 2014, but need to know if there is anything more recent, so I can cite it in an article that needs to be finished yesterday.
Attila the Pun's user avatar
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Is Etruscan zivas "to live" a borrowing from some IE language?

The Etruscan zivas looks similar to PIE *gʷih₃wós and its decendants, like Greek zōós, Latin vīvus, Proto-Italic and Proto-Hellenic *gʷīwos. Is it known to be a borrowing from an IE language?
Anixx's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
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Why is "knife" in Ukrainian different from other Slavic languages?

I saw this image on reddit, and it made me wonder why the way Ukrainians say "knife" is different from all other Slavic languages? Is this part of a more general trend ("i" ...
MWB's user avatar
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Evolution of the sense of Logos

So this term has had a lot of impact religiously and philosophically, yet I still do not understand why logos as discourse or word was taken by Stoics and Platonists as some divine principle and by ...
Lina Jane's user avatar
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2 answers
99 views

The Origin of the Word 'Mammoth' [closed]

As per the Wiktionary article the origin of the world is Russian: From obsolete Russian ма́мант (mámant), modern ма́монт (mámont), probably from a Uralic language, such as Proto-Mansi *mē̮ŋ-ońt (“...
Maksim Fedosov's user avatar
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How certain is the Latin origin of Albanian ”gënjej” (to lie) from Latin (ingannō<ganniō)?

Albanian word gënjej ("to lie") is considered to be of Latin origin — from Vulgar Latin ingannō, from Latin ganniō... These are the only details I could find. Wiktionary gives no scholarly ...
cipricus's user avatar
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Could the Romanian gând/gândi (thought/think) be ultimately of Latin and/or Albanian origin?

A gândi is in modern Romanian the common/main form of the verb "to think", based on the noun gând ("thought"). It is considered of Hungarian origin, from "gond". I don't ...
cipricus's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
83 views

In PIE, what was the function of the suffix *-(ō)l?

For example, in the word: *H₃nóbʰ-ōl / *H₃ómbʰ-l̥ "navel" (Wiktionary: Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/h₃nóbʰōl)
Corn Boy's user avatar
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0 answers
62 views

Does the word "mi" mean anything by itself in finnish?

Starting to learn finnish, I have noticed lots of question words in finnish all start with the syllable "mi": mika, mista, missa, miten ... Does "mi" mean anything by itself, or is ...
Toby Peterken's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
209 views

What influenced the fact in almost all European languages ​the word human "man" means a male?

Why "werman" (OldEnglish man as male) became simply Man (human) and "wifman" (OldEnglish man as female) became woman? Man in English (man, human) Homme in French (man, human) Mann ...
Orii's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
163 views

Similar and cognate words between Swedish and Iranian are related to which historical era?

I have been studying languages and history for more than thirty years but I am still in surprise how some of Indo-European languages that has separated thousands years ago from each other still ...
Alireza's user avatar
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-2 votes
3 answers
204 views

Is it reasonable to connect the Old Persian/Avestan word for "garden" with the Greek word?

The Old Persian/Avestan word for "garden/orchard" is bustan/bostan. On the surface, this word looks very similar to the Greek term botane, which means the same thing (and is clearly the ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
159 views

Why does πεντάμορφη mean "beautiful"? [closed]

How does "five-formed / five-shaped", πεντάμορφη, mean "beautiful"? Such that it's used as in translation of "Beauty and the Beast" movie titles, and accepted by Google ...
Malady's user avatar
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1 answer
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Was the word 'vehicle' first used as a concrete noun or as an abstract noun?

So I recently learned that the word 'vehicle' was first used in the 1650s and that got me thinking about the way in which it was first used, and whether this use would've been literal or metaphorical. ...
Jane Doe's user avatar
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1 answer
106 views

Etymological link between “govern” and “born”

So my question is two-fold. Specific and more general. I was doing some genealogy research and I was trying to read some Yiddish (I don’t understand Yiddish), and I thought a line said a certain ...
Daniel Elfenbein's user avatar
-3 votes
1 answer
63 views

Are the Croatian word "radije" (rather) and English word "rather" related?

The Croatian word "radije" means "rather". Is it related to English "rather"? On one hand, it seems that they can't be, as the Croatian 'd' (in "radije") ...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
182 views

Is morphology of English mostly done by its etymology?

I have the following observations and not sure if they are correct. Whenever I want to learn about the morphology of a word in English, e.g. the affixes and root of the word, my search on the ...
Tim's user avatar
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What is the origin of the turkish word for cannibal, yamyam? [closed]

Someone posted a screenshot of a google translation of the word cannibal on a social network site. It seems to translate to yamyam in Turkish. I found that both funny and bizarre at first and am ...
Hoov's user avatar
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3 answers
145 views

In the words "repress" "pressure" "oppression," etc, why is one of the root component "per"?

According to etymonline, definition (4) of "per", this root component formed words such as "repress," "express," etc. Except none of these words have "per" in ...
FMB's user avatar
  • 263
-1 votes
1 answer
171 views

How can a language-learner determine the root, prefix, and suffix of a word in English, if they know its language of origin?

Many English vocabulary-building books (for example, Merriam-Webster Vocabulary Builder, Word Power Made Easy) break the meaning of words down into three pieces: prefix + root + suffix. On the website ...
Tim's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
96 views

Do the English words “dear”, “darling” etc share a root with Russian дорогой?

The Russian has an unclear etymology. Is there a phonological reason why it can’t be from a Germanic root? Wiktionary says the Germanic root (‘diurijaz‘) is also uncertain and might come from Latin “...
Forthinsorrow's user avatar
-6 votes
1 answer
59 views

Are PIE *bal and *welH- related?

Has anyone compared eg. Bhumibol - title of Thailand's monarch, derived from Sanskrit - and oblast - a Slavic noun related to rule and governance, vb. *voldati "to rule, to reign, to govern"?...
vectory's user avatar
  • 1,416
-2 votes
2 answers
176 views

Can these similarities between PIE and Burushaski be explained?

We have: English PIE Burushaski brown bʰerH-om baard-um tongue dn̥ǵʰwéh₂s juŋus warm gʷʰer-om gar-um pair kʷeth₂ kaat fire péh₂wr̥ pʰu ...
Anixx's user avatar
  • 6,643
1 vote
1 answer
170 views

Origin of ratchasap/ราชาศัพท์ phenomenon in Thai and/or Tai-kadai languages

I am attempting to trace the origin of "rachasap" (Thai: ราชาศัพท์; Lao: ລາດຊະຊັບ). What is "rachasap"? Rachasap is an entire body of words that are used with deity, royalty, or ...
Biblasia's user avatar
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