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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217 views

Etymology of “iron” - semantic change

I have run into something weird about the etymology of this word. Wiktionary gives some details. It claims that it descends from PIE *h₁ésh₂r̥ (blood) via Proto-Celtic, and cites two sources to back ...
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The origin of the two usages of “certain”

Question What is the origin of the combination of these two meaning types in a single word, which we seem to find in some related languages? Type A: a certain teacher / ein bestimmter Lehrer / un ...
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208 views

Why are the Turkeys name in reference to other cultures?

Introduction After being literally translated into english, the name of the Turkey (bird) follow some interesting pattern. In english, they are called "Turkey". In turkish, they are called "Hindi". ...
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220 views

Meaning of “Elin”

Elin is supposed to mean "Woman of Intelligence" in Sanskrit see http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Elin. However, I was not able to verify this independently in Sanskrit dictionaries on the web ...
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229 views

Etymology of the tribe-names Latins, Lydians, Latvians, Lithuanians?

According to some ancient historians (e.g. Herodotos, Dionysius of Halicarnassus) and poets (e.g. Virgil) there was some ethnic relation between the people of the East Coast of Asia Minor (where Troy ...
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Are these Kazakh words considered borrowings (from Russian?) or onomatopoieias?

These three words are very similar in English, Russian and Kazakh. At least the Russian set is considered inherited from PIE. English - Russian - Kazakh crush - крушить (krushitь) - қырш (qyrsh) ...
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175 views

Are English crush and Russian крушить related?

I wonder whether English crush and Russian крушить (krushit', "to crush") related?
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181 views

Does the etymology of 'affricate' consist with its meaning? [closed]

affricative (n.) 1879, perhaps via German, with -ive + Latin affricat-, past participle stem of affricare "rub against," from ad- (see ad-) + fricare "to rub" (see friction). Source: p 40, ...
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Why is the Frontal plane called the 'Coronal plane'?

Preface: Beware that Spanish (eg: los planos coronales) and Portuguese also derive from the Latin corona; so this question transcends English etymology. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronal_plane#...
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How did the name for st Peter become to be rendered as “Peter” in English, and why is not rendered as “stone” or “rock”

As I understand it, in the original bible passage, Jesus says to Peter "And I tell you that you are Petros, and on this petra I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" And ...
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80 views

“Dexenoethnic exonyms”: typological studies, references and/or resources?

By "dexenoethnic exonym" (my own coinage for the purpose of this particular question) I mean an ethnonym/glottonym derived from a name originally applied to a (language of a) different ethnic group, ...
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371 views

What explains the sound development from Latin -vi- to French -dg- ?

abridge (v.) [...] from Old French abregier "abridge, diminish, shorten," from Late Latin abbreviare "make short" (see abbreviate). The sound development from Latin -vi- to French -dg- is ...
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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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347 views

What explains the differences between doublet verbs that differ by a prefix?

The differences in meanings of doublet verbs such as 3-6 below: Are there any resources that investigate the big picture behind them? I abhor to memorise, and prefer to understand, such differences. ...
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Does '-ous' imply no interruption, and '-al' the possibility of interruption?

I already know that 'continuous' is stronger than continual, but that both derive from the same Latin etymon continuus. These answers on ELU evidence this difference, but does not explain the cause. ...
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581 views

Why is the past participle of the French « lire » « lu », but « rire » « ri »?

Phonologically,« lire » and « rire » sound like a minimal pair, with the first letter as the only difference. So what might explain the difference between their « participes passé »? Their etymons ...
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How does a rule explain how « à chef » evolved into « achever »?

Etymonline refers to the "An Etymological Dictionary of the French Language" by Auguste Brachet, translated by G.W. Kitchin, Oxford, 1878. Its entry for achever, on page 152 of 558, states: For f =...
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Online etymology dictionaries for French, beyond CNTRL?

Are there etymology dictionaries for French available on the Internet? To wit, what's a French equivalent of http://etymonline.com/? I already know about TLF informatisé (TLFi), but often, it does ...
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How it happened that the same thing called “Russian mountains” in America and “American mountains” in Russia? [closed]

How it happened that the same roller coaster type is called "Russian mountains" in America and "American mountains" in Russia?
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English & Competing Borrowings: How many “pre-Norman” loanwords are known to have been replaced by “post-Hastings” ones?

What I am looking for: As my question suggests, I'm interested in words English has adopted from other languages. More specifically, I'm interested in old Celtic or Scandinavian (or other) loanwords ...
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78 views

Why does the head connote foolhardiness? [closed]

Whence does this connotation of 'head' as foolhardiness originate? PIE? It appears in English words of Germanic origin like 'headfirst' and 'headlong', but also Latinate words like precipitate. ...
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Word ageing: what reliable bibliographical references can be recommended?

I have encountered the notion of "word ageing". Lexemes (unless and until replaced through internal or external innovation) grow older and older, and with time they tend to (1) acquire some additional ...
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186 views

Why was 'thwart' assigned to PIE *terkw- “to twist”?

thwart (adv.) [...] c. 1200, from a Scandinavian source, probably Old Norse þvert "across," originally neuter of thverr (adj.) "transverse, across," (cognate with Old English þweorh "...
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How did the Greek 'tropos' evolve to the Latin 'tropus'?

Etymology [ of French 'trouver' ] From Old French trover, truver, from Vulgar Latin *tropāre, present active infinitive of *tropō, from Latin tropus; confer trope. Etymology [ of Latin '...
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236 views

The origin of “ba” particle

In French, Italian there is a particle ba(h) which is used for exclamation of contempt, excitement, surprise etc. There's pretty similar particle բա in Armenian which is used for expressing amusent as ...
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288 views

How did the Latin stem '-duce' evolve to mean 'from an effect'?

From the following (on the 3 derivatives of ducere), both 'induction' and 'abduction' presuppose 'an effect', but 'deduction' produces (I intended this use of another derivative of ducere) 'the ...
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323 views

How did the prefix 'be-' function in 'behind'?

behind (adv.) Old English behindan "behind, after," from bi "by" + hindan "from behind" (see hind (adj.)). hindan already meant "from behind", and It doesn't make sense to say: by from ...
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465 views

What exactly is remarkable about Proto-Germanic *wrakjon?

wretch, n. and adj. Etymology: Old English wrecca , wræcca , = Old Saxon wrekkio , -eo (applied to the Magi), Old High German reccheo , reccho , etc., exile, adventurer, knight errant (Middle High ...
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80 views

What's the etymology of 'of' after verbs?

(TL;DR) While reading about preposition of on OED (eg avail of, enquire of), I encountered OED's claim that the postverbal of originates from the genitive case, and from Old English. How can this ...
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201 views

How did “as” (in English) branch into many meanings that look unlinked?

How did as change semantically and ramify into all the meanings beneath? What underlying ideas or metaphors link them? Beneath, I chose only the broadest meanings from ODO, to see the "overall view"...
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187 views

Etymology of “Haggard” has anything to do with Hagar in Islam?

A simple google search tells me that "Haggard" emerged in... ...mid 16th century (used in falconry): from French hagard ; perhaps related to hedge; later influenced by hag. However, on a Discovery ...
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158 views

Are cent and cena related?

A number of Slavic languages have the word "cena" meaning "price": Slovenian, Slovak, Polish cena, Russian цена I wonder whether it is related to the word cent
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How to parse 'in as much' and similar syntagmas?

[OED] inasmuch {adverb} = [Etymology:] originally 3 words in as much (in northern Middle English in als mikel), subsequently sometimes written as 2 words, in asmuch, and now (especially since ...
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435 views

Do the words “dolphin” and “الدلفين” in English and Arabic have the same origin?

The word dolphin is used in may languages including English and Arabic (الدلفين) But it seems Arabic dictionaries say originally it has been darfil while Oxford dictionary says it is derived from the ...
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628 views

r in Romance names of London

Most Romance languages have an "r" in their renditions of the British capital's name: Londres, Londra etc. Outside the Romance family, I only found it in Turkish Londra and Breton Londrez, but those ...
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Why does “before” mean both “in front of” and “prior to”?

The word "before" means both "in front of" and "prior to". Not only in English though - in many European languages: in Dutch "voor" means both in Italian "prima" can mean both (afaik) in French "(en) ...
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How to learn more about contradictory or superfluous affixes efficiently?

Instead of questioning each word's prefixes, how can I learn more productively? E.g. I was researching the etymology of the French verb 'accabler': [I quoted Wiktionary in French; the English ...
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848 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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321 views

Etymology of 'but', from West Germanic to Old English

but (adv., prep.) [<--] Old English butan, buton "unless, except; without, outside," from West Germanic * be-utan, a compound of * be- "by" (see by) + * utana "out, outside; from without,"  ...
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How did '-ikos' evolve into '-ic'?

-ics [<--] in the names of sciences or disciplines (acoustics, aerobics, economics, etc.) it represents a 16c. revival of the classical custom of using the neuter plural of adjectives with -...
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Why were prefixes repeated as postverbal prepositions?

French: s'abstenir de    Spanish: abstenerse de    English: abstain [from] (v.) [<--] late 14c., "to withhold oneself," from Old French abstenir (14c.), earlier astenir (13c.) "hold (...
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371 views

Parallels between h₂ and t in PIE and Nostratic, what is the explanation?

In Afro-Asiatic we have the feminine ending -a which has the following evolution history: -a < -aha < -at < et where ha is a glottal fricative. In IE (for instance, in Russian, Greek, Latin) ...
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Language origin of english words by usage

This neat diagram was brought up on english.SE from wikipedia, based on research by Finkenstaedt, Thomas and Joseph M. Williams describing where words come from. On the wikipedia page it also states ...
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243 views

Why do some languages partition 'to know' into 2 or more verbs?

I was reading the etymology of the Modern English verb 'know', when its reference to other languages motivated this question: [...] Once widespread in Germanic, this form is now retained only in ...
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228 views

How does the prefix 'ad-' function in 'attribute'?

attribute (v.) [<--] late 14c., "assign, bestow," from Latin attributus, past participle of attribuere "assign to, add, bestow;" figuratively "to attribute, ascribe, impute," from ad- "to" +...
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'stipend' : How did 'a tree trunk' evolve to mean 'payment, gift'?

stipend (n.)    early 15c., "periodical payment; soldier's pay," from Latin stipendium "tax, impost, tribute," in military use "pay, salary," from stips "alms, small payment, contribution of ...
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How did the Vulgar Latin 'parabola' evolve to mean 'word'?

parable (n.)    mid-13c., parabol, modern form from early 14c., "saying or story in which something is expressed in terms of something else," from Old French parable "parable, parabolic style ...
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Did the English 'confer' evolve from the Middle French « conférer » ?

[Etymonline :] 1530s, from Middle French conférer (14c.) "to give, converse, compare," from Latin conferre "to bring together," figuratively "to compare; consult, deliberate, ...
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174 views

What did the Greek 'peripherein' carry?

periphery (n.) late 14c., "atmosphere around the earth," from Old French periferie (Modern French périphérie), from Medieval Latin periferia, from Late Latin peripheria, from Greek peripheria "...
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587 views

How did the PIE root 'dek-' evolve into the Greek 'dokein' to appear, seem, think' ?

dek- To take, accept. ... [2.] b. dogma, dogmatic; chionodoxa, Docetism, doxology, heterodox, orthodox, paradox, from Greek dokein, to appear, seem, think (< "to cause to accept or be ...

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