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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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 ...
Dan Getz's user avatar
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833 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 ...
Iwan Aucamp's user avatar
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585 views

Comparative markers coming from low degree markers ("attenuatives")? (List such languages.)

Which languages have a marker of the comparative degree of adjectives that coincides with a marker of a low degree? ...or which has evolved from such a low degree marker? (A message asking for the ...
imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
255 views

Etymology of Persian city suffix +jand

City names in Iran and Central Asia, such as "Birjand" in Iran and "Khujand" in Tajikistan end with "jand" suffix. The first idea that comes to my mind is that it might ...
anonymous's user avatar
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140 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. ...
iacobo's user avatar
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Are L. arvix and L. aries cognates?

arvix sacrificial ram aries From a Proto-Indo-European root meaning "jump, spring," cognate with Old High German irah (“ram”), Old Irish heirp (“kid”), Ancient Greek ἔριφος, Armienian ...
archenoo's user avatar
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4 votes
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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 ...
Ergative Man's user avatar
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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. ...
Maria's user avatar
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Relation between keltoi and galatai?

The ancient Greeks used both words and appeared to have originated both. The first form appears first in 517BC by Hecateus of Milietus. The word is still known in the 12th century AD where it's used ...
Daniel's user avatar
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History of Danish "nd" and "ld"

Danish orthography often has "nd" and "ld" instead of "nn" and "ll", often in cases where it is not etymologically justified. Does anybody know more about this, like when this kind of spelling started ...
Daniel Molinero's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
626 views

What is the etymology of "Tarim" as in "Tarim Basin" and does it relate to Tocharian?

I was trying to obtain a proper etymology for the name "Tarim" and found it rather difficult. The Wiktionary page only lists the modern Turkish word tarım meaning agriculture, so was the Wikipedia ...
mooncatcher's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
82 views

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
3 votes
0 answers
109 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
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101 views

Are there many "lexical universals" like mama/papa - based on similar re-creation?

Reading the article "Where do mama/papa words come from?" by Larry Trask, linked in this answer (itself based on Roman Jakobson's 1959 article ‘Why “mama” and “papa”?’) we see that a ...
cipricus's user avatar
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108 views

Is the Proto-Slavic root *term (dwelling) related to the Proto-Ugric root *tärɜ „open space, room”?

I am curious about the obscure etymology of the Romanian word tărâm (realm, domain, world, geographical space -- usually a poetic word, like in the plural form alte tarâmuri = "other (foreign) ...
cipricus's user avatar
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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"? ...
Anixx's user avatar
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Languages where smells are heard

In Russian, one can use the verb слышать ([ˈslɨʂətʲ], "hear") with both sounds and smells, though it's more common to use чувствовать ([ˈt͡ɕustvəvətʲ], "feel") for smells. Example from Wiktionary: ...
Dmiters's user avatar
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What is the etymology of Tibetan ཁང་ [khang]?

I've just discovered that ཁང་ [Wylie: khang], the Tibetan word for 'building' used as a part in many everyday vocabulary items sounds strangely familiar to the word of the same meaning in Farsi, which ...
Manjusri's user avatar
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PIE root *trep-: 'trepidation' vs 'trope'

[Etymonline for trepidation (n.) :] ... from PIE * trep- (1) "to shake, tremble" ... , related to * trem- (see tremble (v.)). [Etymonline for trope (n.) :] ... from PIE * trep- (2) "to ...
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239 views

Native Urdu Speakers saying "I'll I'll" when speaking English

I have a number of Indian colleagues who are fluent in English (but Natively spoke Urdu or Hindi) and I've noticed a trend to stutter the word "I'll" when they speak it, as in: I'll I'll look into ...
BadPirate's user avatar
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1 answer
148 views

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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2 votes
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95 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
2 votes
0 answers
80 views

Why do Proto-germanic "-as" nouns have e-grade?

Why do Proto-germanic "-as" nouns have e-grade (don't have an ablaut like Ancient Greek τρέπ-ω τρόπ-ος, πέκ-ω πόκ-ος, λέχ-ομαι λόχ-ος, φέβ-ομαι φόβ-ος)?
Кузнецов Анатолий's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
105 views

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?
i's's user avatar
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0 answers
158 views

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 ...
Eugene's user avatar
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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 ...
Quidam's user avatar
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197 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, ...
Number File's user avatar
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2 votes
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Do we have an Intonation "etymology"?

Recently I was thinking about a language I'm currently learning and its similarities with my own native language. While I assume grammar to change considerably depending on language it came to mind ...
armatita's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
69 views

Is the ellipsis behind 'such as' grammatically correct?

[OED] 7. a. With correlative as pron. (see AS conj. 17), Middle English also as that, taking the place of Old English swelce, swá. such as = Of the kind or degree that; the kind of (person or ...
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2 votes
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1k views

'penance' vs 'penitence'

penance (n.) [←] late 13c., "religious discipline or self-mortification as a token of repentance and as atonement for some sin," from Anglo-French penaunce, Old French peneance (12c.), from ...
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2 votes
0 answers
195 views

'dispose' vs 'dispose of' & « disposer » vs « disposer de »

[Source:] [D1.] dispose (v.) - (a) to arrange in order; (b) to lean toward or incline (typically used as a past participle). ... [D2.] dispose of (phrasal v.) - (a) to throw away or discard; (b) to ...
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2 votes
0 answers
253 views

Etymology of Ancient Greek deictic -ī

In Ancient Greek, a deictic particle -ī can be attached to demonstratives to strengthen the "this here" meaning: e.g. houtos "this one", houtosī "this one right here". What is the origin of this -ī? ...
TKR's user avatar
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2 votes
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181 views

Are the two Lao (and Isan) words for "to be", "ເປັນ" (pen) and "ແມ່ນ" (maen), etymologically related?

I've just learned that Lao has two words for "to be", that are mostly interchangeable: ເປັນ (pen) ແມ່ນ (maen) They both begin with a labial, have an "e-like" vowel, and end "n". I think it's pretty ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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2 votes
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492 views

Why do only a few English demonyms have a -man suffix?

Several English demonyms (Englishman) are compound words ending in -man, but most are not (Greek). The vast majority of -man demonyms refer to England and close neighbors: Frenchman, Irishman, ...
Bradd Szonye's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
95 views

Are euphemisms more likely to be translated when imported into another language?

When euphemisms enter another language, are the words making up the euphemism more likely to be translated to that language compared to non-euphemisms? I suspect that people translate words in the ...
Golden Cuy's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
354 views

Origin of *dhvor-

Formerly as I remember I saw somewhere *dhvor- (door, gate, yard, court) connected with the root *vert- (turn) in PIE. This is quite realistic and can be supported with similar Russian words створка (...
Anixx's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
205 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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1 vote
0 answers
91 views

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
1 vote
0 answers
51 views

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
  • 666
1 vote
0 answers
105 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
1 vote
0 answers
82 views

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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1 vote
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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
0 answers
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Is there a Slavic equivalent of the Greek and Latin semantic transfer from "chest/vault" to "treasure", like θησαυρός/thesaurus?

I was looking at the etymology of the Romanian word comoară ("treasure", "hoard", "pile of precious things") and it seems based on the widespread Slavic form komora, ...
cipricus's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
135 views

What is the origin of the Russians' endonym?

Just to recap. In Old Nordic something along the lines of "Rods" meant "rowers", "men who row" → then it gave name to one Swedish coastal region, "Roslagen" → ...
Sergey Zolotarev's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
118 views

Why does Old Norse ‘Óláfr’ have á instead of ei?

The Proto-Germanic (PG) diphthong *ai generally becomes ei in Old Norse (ON), except regularly before an original *h and commonly before r (but only from PG *r, not from rhotacised PG *z). Examples ...
Кузнецов Анатолий's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
92 views

Relationship between "גולגולת" (skull) and "גלגל" (wheel)

Both "גולגולת" (skull) and "גלגל" (wheel) are listed, on Wiktionary, as coming from the shared root ג־ל־ג־ל. All of the other words except for גולגולת have clear relationships to ...
Alex Meiburg's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
141 views

Are PIE *yóh₁r̥ "spring, summer" and Proto-Turkic *yāŕ "spring, summer" cognates?

In Turkic it seems to be related to the word for "half" (yarım in modern Turkish). The semantic development looks more likely into the direction half->spring rather than the opposite.
Anixx's user avatar
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1 vote
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67 views

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 ...
masterchan's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
60 views

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 "...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
120 views

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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