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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Morphology vs Etymology

Morphology is the component of grammar that builds words out of units of meaning(morphemes) where a morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language. Etymology is the study of the origin of words ...
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756 views

Origin of the word/root 'del'

As I was contemplating the Norwegian word "del," which means "part" or "portion," it occurred to me that there is the same root in Russian, and that it means the same thing. I looked up "del" and "...
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Did Latin “cum” get replaced in French by “avec” because “con” sounded obscene?

While the words for "with" in most Romance languages seem to be direct descendents from Latin "cum" (e.g. Spanish/Italian "con", Portuguese "com", Romanian "cu") it got replaced by "avec" in French. ...
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Is the the Turkish word kin 'hate, venom etc' restricted to Anatolian-Turkish only?

The word kin 'hate, venom, spite' is quite unusual and took my attention for its meaning 'venom'. Is it an Anatolian-Turkish/Azeri only word or is it common in other Turkic languages? Does anyone know ...
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1answer
323 views

Why is “bicycle” shortened to “bike” and not “bice”?

In my accent, at least, "bicycle" is pronounced /bɑɪsɪkʊl/, but it's shortened to /bɑɪk/, and not /bɑɪs/. The latter would be analogous to how some people shorten "decent" to "dece" /diːs/, but it ...
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1answer
306 views

How do contronyms (aka auto-antonyms) arise?

Contronyms are words that are their own antonyms. For example: Sanction can mean to penalize for or approve of. Off can mean activated(the alarm went off) or deactivated. (Additional examples) ...
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English “fruit” vs Italian “frutta” plural number

So I was listening to: "Story of Human Language - John McWhorter" and I stumbled upon an example of errors foreigners could do while speaking English (at least the American variant), mainly: This ...
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1answer
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Macaroons, macarons, macaroni and…barley?

I really can't figure out the etymology of these 3 'mac-' words. According to google, the etymology for "macaroni" originates from late 17th century: from Italian maccaroni (now usually spelled ...
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1answer
215 views

Why does “banana” have so many translations in Spanish?

The word used for "banana" seems to differ a lot depending on the country. For example, it is "banano" in Colombia, "cambur" in Venezuela, "guineo" in El ...
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1answer
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Where does the Swedish word “bra” come from? [closed]

Swedish has the words "bra", "god" and "väl" with similar meanings. "Bra" is usually an adjective for example Han är en bra programmerare. = He is a good programmer. "God" means more like "...
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1answer
179 views

Etymology/meaning of (Mount) Kyllene

My unabridged Liddell/Scott does not have any indication of what the name of the Greek Mount "Kyllene" means. Robert Graves in "The Greek Myths" says it means "Twisted Queen." I have seen where he ...
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2answers
728 views

Specific origin of savvy

The dictionaries don't agree on whether savvy comes from French or Spanish, via creole/pidgin. Is it known which language is the origin and where the word specifically first entered English?
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1answer
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Turkish kalem: from Anc. Greek or Tocharian?

Usually the Turkish word kalem 'pen' is shown in etym. dictionaries to derive from Arabic qalam, which in turn derives from Greek κάλαμος. However, I noticed that Tocharian languages have the term ...
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Word classification and labeling

I got myself in a controversial discussion on word classification. To my knowledge words can be classified as a) inherited from a parent language, b) inherited substrate words, c) a result of ...
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what about ophis Python==ahi Budhnya?

in short : is the equation ὄφις Πύθων == अहि बुध्न्य ahi budʰnya widely accepted by scholars ? Python and Ahi Budhnya/Ahirbudhnya are both a famous serpent, the first one in the Greek mythology, the ...
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Etymologically, why is there a v in “Giovanni”

It comes ultimately from Hebrew "Yochannon", via Greek Ioannes, from which German "Johannes" and Spanish "Juan" are very clear natural derivatives of that, given Greek had an h which was later lost (...
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How did “li” come to mean “here” in Cape Verdean Creole?

The words li and la in Cape Verdean Creole look parallel to the Portuguese words ali and lá. There's just one problem: li and ali are opposites. Li means "here", while ali means "there". There are ...
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Is there any relation between the Hebrew word שד for 'demon' and the English word 'shade' for ghost?

A שד (pronounced shade) is a demon or ghost, in Hebrew. In English, the word 'shade' is used to mean ghost or demon in some places. (I find it in fantasy novels a lot.) Is there any relation?
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1answer
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How does English 'lodge' come from Frankish *laubija by sound change?

lodge (etymonline) (n.) Middle English logge, mid-13c. in surnames and place names; late 13c. as "small building or hut," from Old French loge "arbor, covered walk; hut, cabin, grandstand at ...
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1answer
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Why do Croatian and Italian contain the same grammatical endings for nouns and verbs?

Italy is a country in the Southern Europe. Croatia is a country in the South-Eastern Europe (or Central, depending on interpretation). Because of the close geographical proximity, these two could have ...
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1answer
251 views

Origin of gen./abl. “pitur” genitive of “pitā́” (“father”) in Sanskrit

How did the Sanskrit gen./abl. singular of pitr-/pitā́ ("father") came to be pitur (and the genitive of the entire noun class as well, of course)? The evolution of all other forms (even pitā́, which ...
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1answer
198 views

Are PIE *bʰewg- “flee” and PIE *bʰegʷ- “flee” cognate?

These two verbal roots *bʰewg- "flee" and *bʰegʷ- "flee" share the same meaning and very similar forms, the only difference is their ending consonant. I wonder whether they are from a same root or ...
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181 views

Are these similarities coincidental?

The word "betray" sounds similar to the Swedish word "bedra". The Swedish word means betray or commit a fraud. The word "fraud" sounds similar to the Swedish word "förrådd" which means betrayed. ...
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Idiomatic modifiers that have completely different impact on the same word

I'm thinking about similarly-formed idiomatic constructs like this cluster: 'Put up' - (#1) to allow someone to reside, usually in an ad-hoc temporary manner ('He put up John and I put up Mike; it ...
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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 ...
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2answers
145 views

Are numeric notations independent of the languages spoken by their creators?

This question shows that Roman numerals did not take advantage of the regularities that were present in Latin. Quīnquāgintā (L) is clearly built from quīnque (V), yet their Roman numerals aren't ...
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(PIE) déḱm̥ vs déḱm̥t (ten)

In short : what's the final -t in déḱm̥t? Full details : The Proto-Indo-European root for ten is traditionally defined as déḱm̥/déḱm̥t(ᵃ). The final -t may be analyzed as a casual ending, e.g. as a "...
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Where did the Greek word diaballein got it's meaning from accusing and divide from? [closed]

διαβάλλειν (dia-ballein) "Dia" means through (by the way of; or from one end or side of something to the other (across); or between) and "ballein" means throwing. Now online there are two ...
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170 views

How did 'less than' semantically shift to mean 'if not'?

unless (conj.) mid-15c., earlier onlesse, from (not) on lesse (than) "(not) on a less compelling condition (than);" see less. The first syllable originally on, but the negative connotation and the ...
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Do any languages use {woman} as the root for human?

In English, along with some other Latinate languages, the word for our species as a whole is related specifically to that of the male sex: 'Latin humanus "of man, human," – Etymoline' This, ...
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1answer
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Why do 'n' and 'm' look so similar?

I'm investigating why the letters 'N' and 'M' look so different – a friend wanted to know. I can trace back to connection to Etruscan but there the trail seems to go cold. Going back in time, the ...
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6answers
750 views

German (-stell-) and Slavic (-stav-) languages: who was first?

I have been wondering about the following close parallel between German (I'm not aware of any other Germanic language for which this would hold) and Czech in particular: postavit ~ stellen (to place ...
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2answers
822 views

Where do Latin and Greek words come from?

A lot of words in European and other languages come from Latin and Greek, if English (It's an example) words come from Latin and Greek, where Latin and Greek words come from?
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In old Greek did γγ ever replace κκ in the way Attic uses ττ for Ionic σσ?

This question is prompted by a word used in botanical nomenclature: coggygria. Liddell and Scott show κοκκυγρεα and κοκκυγρια, words used for the tree in question. Is there any evidence that the word ...
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5answers
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Why are some scripts' names derived from their first few characters?

The name of the Old English runic alphabet Fuþorc (or transliterated into Furthark or Furthorc) is, just like the word alphabet formed by a portmanteau of its first few letters. The Scandinavian ...
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3answers
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Which of 可爱/可愛い was exported to the other between Chinese and Japanese?

In Chinese (Mandarin), there exists a word 可爱 that means "pretty" or "cute" in English. In Japanese, there is also a word 可愛い (adjective) that means the same thing in English. Given that both words ...
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Reverse-etymology resources

Are there any resources which, given a Latin or Greek word, reference modern English words derived from the word? I find it much easier to remember a root when I know a word derived from it. For a ...
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Are there languages in which “coffee” is not a cognate of a root containing k/q and f/h/w?

Is there a language, in which the word for "coffee" does not contain the sounds k/q and f/h/v, i.e. the word has a different root?
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Are the cognates of PIE roots in this paper reliable?

I came across a long paper with many cognates of PIE roots, some examples: *weid- "to see" and *sueid- "to shine" < *weid-es-weid-, *h₂ǵ- "to drive" and *sh₂ǵ- "to seek" < *h₂ǵ-es-h₂ǵ-, where *...
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206 views

What is the etymology of ypologistís (Greek, computer)?

Is ypologistís (Greek for computer) derived from, or related to, apologeisthai "to speak in one's defense," from apologos "an account, story," (Etomonline) I have now been informed by Janus ...
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Etymological development of forms of Spanish “seguir” from Latin “SEQVI” (*sequire)

I am seeking an explanation for the development of the forms of Spanish "seguir" from Latin "SEQVI" (Vulgar Latin: *sequire), especially the irregular forms. Especially, why did the "e" become "i" in ...
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2answers
350 views

Historical development of English pronunciation(s) of “hygiene”

I have a two-part question about the pronunciation of hygiene in English. The usual pronunciation, as shown by a variety of online dictionaries accessible from OneLook Dictionary Search, is /...
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1answer
887 views

Why were words for the four cardinal directions in Romance languages borrowed from Old English?

Why were words for the four cardinal directions (east, west, north, south) in Romance languages borrowed from Old English? They could have used their own words derived from Latin because these words ...
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0answers
93 views

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 ...
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0answers
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collection of derivative nouns

I am a researcher in Computational Linguistics. Recently, my research interests led me towards the analysis derivative nouns, specifically nouns derived from other nouns. For example, India to Indian, ...
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What is the etymology of “adventus?” [closed]

What is the complete root etymology of the Latin word "adventus?"
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1answer
397 views

/s/ or /z/ in ending of [long vowel] + “se” or “s” [closed]

Are there any rules regarding the pronunciation of "se" or "s" in the ending [long vowel] + "se" or "s"? /z/: tease, browse /s/: lease, house English pronunciation pod in the reference just lists ...
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1answer
300 views

How a portmanteau of God's name would be formed [closed]

This is follow up on a question I posed in Mi Yodeya. I was investigating the source of the belief that God's name is "a combination of the words 'Will be, is, was' (יהיה Yihiyeh, Hoveh הווה, haya ...
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1answer
97 views

Name of the act of borrowing linguistic concepts from different languages

What is the term for concepts that got translated from one language or another? I've heard this term in a conversation about Czech Anglicisms such like: "Mějte hezký den." - the literal version of ...
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2answers
927 views

Determining the Age of a Word

Apologies in advance for any ignorance, I'm a non-linguist hoping to better understand the methods in the field (if any) to answer a question I have. In particular, I want to know when a word first ...

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