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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45 views

What does Daniel actually mean? [closed]

The name Daniel is often translated as "judged by God" or "God is my judge". As I understand it, its compents are דִּין (din) to judge / to arbitrate and אֵל ('el) God, right? So ...
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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 one can explain similarities in Fore numerals with those in Eurasiatic languages?

Here is a table that shows some similarity: Fore PIE Korean Tungusic Burushaski Chukchi PAinu Mongolian OTurkic FU PKartvel One - kanone h₁oinom hana ömen hen ...
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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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What is the true etymological origin of the name Phinehas?

I originally inquired about the origin of this name in both the Jewish and Biblical Hermeneutics stack exchange websites. It seemed plausible to make the same inquiry here (a website that focuses on ...
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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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126 views

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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75 views

(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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Why grammaticalized perfective aspect marker is reduced to be used only in narrative style?

I am looking at a set of ballistic verbs like nak, phenk 'throw' in a minor Indo Aryan language spoken in Dravidian vicinity, where one verb of the set is reduced to light verb with perfective meaning,...
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121 views

What can limit the plausibility of the Arabic “š-k-l”(ش ك ل) being in the same lineage as the German “gestalt” via its assumed PIE ancestor “*stel”?

They have near-fully overlapping meanings (I would be going out on a limb to say fully equivalent translations) with both the Arabic and German words having their primary use in expressing the meaning ...
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Semitic and Hebrew etymology

Semitic has historically been used to describe ancient languages spanning from Oman to Morocco through Egypt and Somalia. Today, Antisemitic is different to it's etymology, it doesnt refer to berber ...
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Einbilden vs. Imagine

One of the German words for Imagine is Einbilden, which I believe literally translates to "in-picture". This made me think of the fact that Imagine itself has the prefix Im-, which (together ...
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125 views

Why the French 'noir' has perspired in so many languages?

Having a look at wiki's page about Nordic noir genre, I realised that this same word 'noir' is used in many other languages (even in for ex. Farsi with نوآر). Someone has an idea why this word has ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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168 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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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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