Last modified on 12 January 2015, at 18:33


See also: meitā


Māte un meita


Traditionally, this word is considered a borrowing from Middle Low German meid (female servant) (or from Middle High German meyt, meyde, or Middle Dutch meit), which replaced an older Proto-Indo-European word, probably *dukte, cognate with Lithuanian duktė̃, Old Prussian duckti, Russian дочь (doč’), German Tochter, English daughter (< Proto-Indo-European *dʰugh₂tḗr). It has, however, been pointed out that (a) the meaning “daughter” is older (“servant” is attested only from the 19th century), which is the opposite of what should happen if it were a borrowing from Germanic; (b) the broken intonation is not usual in borrowings from Germanic; and (c) the presumed original word *dukte has left no trace in place names, dialectal forms, etc. On account of that, some researchers believe that meita is not a borrowing, but actually the original word for “daughter” in Latvian, i.e. Latvian did not derive “daughter” from Proto-Indo-European *dʰugh₂tḗr (like Latin, which has fīlia). A possible source would be Proto-Indo-European *mēy- (soft, tender, dear), with an extra t; meita would have originally been the feminine form of the resulting adjective *meits (tender, dear, loved). Another possibility would be the same stem as mīt (to change): the original meaning would have been “changing (status, via marriage)” > “young woman about to get married” > “unmarried young woman; daughter.”[1]


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meita f (4th declension)

  1. daughter (a female child, with respect to her parents)
    māte un meita — mother and daughter
    vecākā, jaunākā meita — the oldest, the youngest daughter
    vienīgā meita — the only daughter
    māsas meita — sister's daughter (= niece)
    mātei bija divi dēli un trīs meitas — the mother had two sons and three daughters
    onkulim ir meita, agronome Kurzemē — uncle has a daughter, an agronomist in Courland
  2. (usually meitene) young, unmarried woman
    meitas dienasyoung woman's days (i.e., before marriage)
    meitas uzvārdsmaiden (lit. young woman's) name
    meža meitas forest girls (= mythological beings)
    meitu mednieksyoung woman hunter (a man who uses every chance to start a love affair)
    jā, viņa, mana māte, bijusi daiļa meita, un daudzi jaunekļi viņu kārojuši sev par sievu — yes, she, my mother, was a beautiful young woman, and many young men wanted her as their wife
    “parunā gan, meit”, Pakalns dzīvi atsaucās; “tev viņi vairāk klausīs” — “talk now, girl,” Pakalns answered lively; “they will hear you further”
  3. female servant, usually unmarried
    muižas meita — mannor servant
    vasaras meita — summer girl (= hired for the summer)
    istabas meita — room maid
    saimniece pie tā paša brauciena gribēja apraudzīties un apklausīties pēc jaunas meitas — the lady wanted, in the same trip, to come see and hear the new servants
  4. (poetic) daughter (a member of a people, ethnic group, etc.)
    dažādu tautu dēli un meitasthe sons and daughters of various nations




Derived termsEdit


  1. ^ “meita” in Konstantīns Karulis (1992, 2001), Latviešu Etimoloģijas Vārdnīca, in 2 vols, Rīga: AVOTS, ISBN: 9984-700-12-7