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Etymology scriptorium

Welcome to the Etymology scriptorium. This is the place to cogitate on etymological aspects of the Wiktionary entries.

Etymology scriptorium archives edit

March 2020


So let me get this straight.

Late Old English had circul, meaning circle, and even used it in compounds. But allegedly, it simply vanished, and "cercle" was borrowed anew from French. Never mind the fact that pronunciation changes happened to other words inherited from Old English that became conflated with Old French cognates. No, supposedly we are simply to believe that Old English circul completely dropped off of the face of the Earth.

Then, the Middle English "replacement", "cercle", utterly vanished from existence, replaced by a completely independent reborrowing from Latin, leaving us with the new "circle".

Are people actually supposed to believe that? Is there any actual evidence to suggest that the modern word is not simply the result of a few phonological zig-zags, and some senses being introduced from cognates, and is indeed the modern descendent of Old English circul? That's far more believable than the notion that this word vanished twice in the history of our language, both times replaced by an extremely similar variant. Tharthan (talk) 04:32, 2 March 2020 (UTC)

This isn't a native Germanic term. It was a learned borrowing from Latin late in Old English (see what I did there?). The idea of a learned term being displaced by a French doublet during the transition to Middle English is quite plausible, given that the educated elite were most effected by the Norman invasion, and replacing of technical terms with more Latinate spelling during the Renaissance is thoroughly plausible, too. Given the similarity of all the forms, determining whether we're talking about merging/conflation or replacement is rather tricky. Chuck Entz (talk) 14:45, 2 March 2020 (UTC)
Of course it isn't a native Germanic term. But, as you say in the last sentence, determining whether one word "replaced" the other, or whether (in fact) the original Old English borrowing was simply altered, and then the altered form was subsequently altered again, is very difficult.
Let us look at a similar case: saint. No traces of Old English sanct remain, and (since the word hālga seems to have been more general for a saint, Old English sanct might as well have fallen into disuse.
But, in fact, there are forms in Middle English that appear to indicate that Old French saint merged (when it was borrowed) with the already existent sanct. So we can reasonably say that the modern word is, at least technically, partially descended from the Old English.
What side ought we to err on in the case of circle? Tharthan (talk) 00:36, 3 March 2020 (UTC)
I've updated the etymology. Many sources state it comes from the Middle English word and is not a re-borrowing of the Latin. Leasnam (talk) 04:28, 3 March 2020 (UTC)
The pronunciation is a good clue that circle is not inherited from Old English, as Old English circul was pronounced with initial /t͡ʃ/. If we had inherited the term it would be *chircle. —Mahāgaja · talk 19:27, 3 March 2020 (UTC)
@Mahagaja If that is so, then we need to alter the pronunciation given presently at circul. Currently, the pronunciation given is "/ˈkir.kul/, [ˈkirˠ.kul]", and the spelling used within our entry is circul, rather than ċircul. Tharthan (talk) 22:49, 3 March 2020 (UTC)
Softness of velar graphemes was not explicitly marked natively (and neither does BT mark it), so failing to put the palatalization dot when creating an entry is understandable. mellohi! (僕の乖離) 14:13, 4 March 2020 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology.

The mention of a similar Kurdish word being a Turkish borrowing being removed in this edit led me to to this etymology. This struck me as odd, with a borrowing from Sanskrit into Middle Persian. I know better than to meddle in an area that I don't know much about. Still, the similarity of the Turkish and the Persian combined with the competing and virulent agendas in this area makes me want a reality check from others who know more about this than I do. @Victar. Chuck Entz (talk) 14:18, 2 March 2020 (UTC)

Well, it’s not odd per se, is often the case for plants and pharmaka, and particularly the names of textiles are borrowed fast, so that we have direct Parthian and Armenian words in Arabic from the same time (نمرقة‎ and بُرْد(burd)), so the etymology seems on the correct track but needs improvement in detail. We have amongst other Indo-Aryan borrowings in Persian (which aren’t even covered anyhow comprehensively here yet) an Indian origin for شال(šâl, shawl), which is however a few centuries later and from an unidentified Indo-Aryan language. In the same fashion چادر(čâdor) will have some intermediate form, some Prakrit probably instead, people just often omit the intermediate languages for their being an obscurer field of study. Fay Freak (talk) 15:14, 2 March 2020 (UTC)
@Chuck Entz: It's certainly not the worst Irman etymology. I found at least one source that seems to allude to it, which I can add. --{{victar|talk}} 20:47, 5 March 2020 (UTC)
I want to mention that we have a Common Turkic reconstruction entry *čātïr. Fay Freak (talk) 01:01, 7 March 2020 (UTC)

Japanese doubletsEdit

I'm not sure if I am missing some subtlety in the definition of doublets, but words like 見る and (from Reconstruction:Proto-Japonic/miru) are doublets correct? So should I change the wording from "cognate" to "doublet" in those articles and add the Japanese doublet category? (should I also add 目 to the proto-Japonic article?) What about hypothesized doublets such as and 栄え? カモイ (talk) 23:08, 2 March 2020 (UTC)

@カモイ: I'm most familiar with the use of the term doublet to mark cognate terms that were borrowed at some point, and arrived in the modern language via different routes, with those routes having different effects on the phonology and meaning of the term. Compare frail (from Latin, but via French) and English fragile (direct from Latin), cease and cede (both from Latin, but from different forms of the root verb), dune (from Proto-Celtic via French, Dutch, and/or German) and town (from Proto-Celtic, via Germanic), etc.
However, in your example, these Japanese terms are all native, so the distinction of calling them "doublets" seems less useful. Moreover, given the way Japanese terms develop over time, this could become a uselessly common label -- there are many words deriving from verbal root sak-, so would all of these be "doublets"? Ex: (sake, combining form saka, “liquor, alcohol”), 栄える (sakaeru, to thrive, to flourish), 盛る (sakaru, to become lively and energetic), 咲く (saku, to bloom), (sakura, cherry blossom), 割く裂く (saku, to rip, to tear apart), 割ける裂ける (sakeru, to become ripped or torn), 離く放く (saku, to draw something apart), 避ける (sakeru, to avoid), 逆らう (sakarau, to oppose; to go against; to be contrary), (sakai, border), (saki, point, protrusion, sticking-out bit), (saki, point, promontory, headland), (saka, hill, rise, sticking-up place), (saki, happiness, well-being, obsolete)...
For Japanese, I think cognate is more useful, and easier to apply correctly, than doublet. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 23:13, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
Thank you for the explanation, as well as the cognate examples. I will go ahead and leave them be then :) カモイ (talk) 16:04, 9 March 2020 (UTC)


Ety 2 verb sense 6:

(transitive, obsolete, nautical) To clean, as a vessel's bottom, of barnacles, grass, etc., and pay it over with pitch — so called because graves or greaves was formerly used for this purpose.

Not clear that this has anything to do with Ety 2, or whether it should be in a separate Ety section ... BUT the situation is confused because some other sources ([1], [2]) mention nothing about "greaves" but say it is "perhaps from French dialect grave, variant of Old French greve ‘shore’ (because originally the ship would have been run aground)" or "perhaps from Old French grave "gravel". I'm not qualified to judge on this. Perhaps someone else might have an idea. In any case, it shouldn't be under Ety 2, should it? Mihia (talk) 20:21, 3 March 2020 (UTC)

On the basis that other dictionaries agree that this has a separate etymology, I have at least moved our entry to new Ety 5. I have not changed any of the explanation of the etymology as I do not know what is correct. Mihia (talk) 15:18, 9 March 2020 (UTC)


An IP just added "or from French "dessin animé" (cartoon)" to a bunch of etymologies on anime. Is this correct? It seems that a shortening of "アニメーション (animēshon)" is the most likely (and most commonly cited) origin of "アニメ (anime)".--Prosfilaes (talk) 01:07, 4 March 2020 (UTC)

That addition has been undone.  --Lambiam 11:08, 4 March 2020 (UTC)
That would be based on the assumption that France was an early importer of animes.
It's just about possible that whoever coined the term knew the Latin root, its reflexes and further derivation ([animation] in four languages at least), like they did some actual marketing with a team of experts, and they might have thought of it broadly as European, like we think Chinese. Perhaps secondary, 'Shonen' names most prestigous manga publications, see 少年 ("young man" or "youth" in compounds). Anywho, it's very likely not a derivation with a single source, but another fabricated neologism. How would we call that, not here where ē points to English, but in general? 23:34, 4 March 2020 (UTC)
Both the Japanese Wiktionary and the Japanese Wikipedia agree that Japanese アニメ (anime) is a clipping of アニメーション (animēshon), which comes from the English pronunciation of animation, and that the term anime was then (re)borrowed by English with a specifically Japanese meaning it does not have in Japan. However, the Japanese Wikipedia mentions that there is also a theory of a French origin (フランス語由来説も存在する).  --Lambiam 09:47, 5 March 2020 (UTC)

Proto-Brythonic *kleð (left) vs. *kluɨð (left)Edit

Are these terms related? Duplicates? Distinct? Matasovic p. 207 seems to derive all the descendants listed from Proto-Celtic *klēyos (left). DJ K-Çel (talk) 17:12, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

I don't know about the Breton, but the Welsh and Cornish forms are definitely from Proto-Brythonic *kleð, not *kluɨð. *kleð itself appears to come from Proto-Celtic *kliyā, feminine of *kliyos, which would be a zero-grade alternative form of *klēyos. —Mahāgaja · talk 21:07, 7 March 2020 (UTC)


The immediate etymon of this word is Middle English hostage, ostage, but beyond that there seem to be two theories:

  • Merriam-Webster supports our current etymology, that it's from Anglo-/Old French hostage ("lodging") hoste ("host") + -age, since a captor would take a captive en hostage i.e. "in[to] lodging", which was reanalysed as ≈"into the condition of being held captive", and then used of the person so held.
  • Dictionary.com, however, asserts the h- is due merely to association with hoste ("host"), and derives the word from Vulgar Latin *obsidāticum (for the condition of being held), from obses.

Etymonline mentions both (except that, like and citing Century, it instead posits that the h- is from hostis, "enemy", not host). Fr.Wikt seems to favour derivation from "host". Shall we present both theories or does anyone want to dig up anything persuasively arguing for one over the other? - -sche (discuss) 17:49, 6 March 2020 (UTC)

It's interesting that the Middle English Dictionary treats the 2 etymologies as 2 separate words [[3]], but offers nothing beyond Old French & Middle Latin as far as origin. Is the "lodging" sense still current in English, seems it may be obsolete (?). There is also the ME hostager from OFr hostagier meaning "hostage" Leasnam (talk) 17:18, 7 March 2020 (UTC)


We derive this from Latin versus ("turned"), but surely (judging by the derived terms) it's extracted from universe in at least many cases? - -sche (discuss) 21:30, 8 March 2020 (UTC)

In the uses that we have of the suffix, it seems to only be in nouns that refer to some kind of alternate universe. Our entries are almost entirely of fictional universes. I think it is occasionally used to refer to a community that centers on some personality or institution that seems to cause members of that community to have a supposed uniform world view supposedly divorced from reality as others see it. I've heard of Trumpverse, Obamaverse, and Clintonverse. The latter three seem to mostly exist in the blogoverse, aka blogosphere (Both blogo- terms seem attestable in books and newspapers.). DCDuring (talk) 22:26, 8 March 2020 (UTC)


There are a few things that seem a bit off about the proposed etymology.

  1. The term appears to have undergone the þ > d shift, which only affected OHG and didn't spread to the more northern languages until the 12th century or so. This suggests that the term was borrowed from OHG specifically.
  2. The term was apparently borrowed with c, which in Old French was still pronounced as an affricate /ts/, and is retained in Italian. How is this affricate explained when the Germanic term had none?
  3. Latin c before a front vowel is reflected in Italian as /tʃ/. The fact that Italian has a dental affricate shows that it can't be an inheritance from this "Latin" term, but must be borrowed.

Rua (mew) 11:02, 10 March 2020 (UTC)

@Rua: Putting the Germanic etymology aside for the moment, is there anything Romance-internal that would argue against a Vulgar Latin *dantiō? I think (but I'm not sure) that that would account for the Italian without hurting anything else. —Mahāgaja · talk 13:10, 10 March 2020 (UTC)


User:Etimo added "Apparently close to Albanian popël" to the etymology, but I don't know if this is based on anything other than resemblance. See also Etimo's addition to the etymology at popël. Cnilep (talk) 04:43, 12 March 2020 (UTC)

OEtymD writes: Some sources compare Latin papula "pustule, pimple, swelling."  The Old English term papol-stān gives this some plausibility. Latin papula is said to be from Proto-Indo-European *pap- (pock mark, nipple). Albanian popël is said to be from Proto-Indo-European *(s)pel- (to sliver, split off, splinter off). If all these are true, the resemblance is a coincidence.  --Lambiam 18:18, 14 March 2020 (UTC)
Root constraints of PIE theoretically prohibit recurance of one consonant C in a CVC structure, although there are rare exceptions. Therefore *pap looks like an outdated reconstruction from Pokorny's LIE. 23:52, 14 March 2020 (UTC)
We have other IE roots with *p_p, *b_b, etc ... they're all just ideophones. e.g. pampinator, bubo, babble, bombos, and possibly pump and pupa. A papule (or pimple) is sometyhing that is small and round and could get an expressive word like that. Pebble could either have come from this wrd or be a parallel derivation. Soap 00:32, 24 March 2020 (UTC)

I think there is no reason not to compare popël with Old English popel, both terms are expressive formations! Albanian pupë - bud, tassel, close to Latin puppa and Lithuanian pupa, shows that similar formations are frequent. Etimo (talk) 00:06, 4 April 2020 (UTC)

to tossEdit

Latin: tossera (f)

? Not in any dictionary. In French it means: he/she/it will crash (like a huge wave into the quay).  --Lambiam 11:05, 15 March 2020 (UTC)

Lat: tessera (f) means dice

Indeed. So what?  --Lambiam 11:02, 15 March 2020 (UTC)
The Latin is unlikely to be related. The entry currently says that Chamber's dictionary suggests a Celtic origin and compares Welsh tos, tosio, but the Dictionary of the University of Wales says that the Welsh is a loanword from English. AHD and Etymonline.com suggest a Scandinavian origin, e.g. Norwegian tossa (to strew, spread). —Mahāgaja · talk 12:34, 15 March 2020 (UTC)
To understand the allusion to dice compare for analogy German würfeln "to throw dice" (also "to dice, cut into dice"), Würfel "dice", Wurf "throw", werfen "to hurl, throw". Würfelspiel "dice-game" would be ambiguous as to whether that's the noun or verb (as would be dice game, if the game were to dice onions). Umlautung to o from e might make sense, so the Norse etymon might yet be from Latin, possibly reinterpretated, who knows. 17:06, 15 March 2020 (UTC)
I cannot find evidence for the existence of such a Norwegian word. I can easily see how the stem of a verb meaning “to throw” is used to form a noun for something thrown; but the opposite direction for a general sense of “throw” from something as specific as the term for a die appears unlikely to me.  --Lambiam 05:02, 16 March 2020 (UTC)
Eric Partridge in Origins says that Norwegian tossa is dialectal, so maybe it isn't in standard dictionaries. He also suggests the English and Norwegian words could be related to German stoßen, though that seems unlikely to me as Germanic words are almost never found both with and without PIE s-mobile, and anyway the German ß comes from Germanic t (*stautaną), so the English and Norwegian words would have to be a borrowing straight from High German, which is not terribly likely under the circumstances. —Mahāgaja · talk 16:55, 17 March 2020 (UTC)

to a manEdit

Can anybody please add some info regaring this idiom? --Backinstadiums (talk) 15:40, 15 March 2020 (UTC)

This idiom is hard to understand. That does not require etymology, but careful reading. If a transparent derivation is possible, then it should be transparent already. A weird derivation through folk etymologic corruption from whatever could be interesting (say, rebracketing and unexplained loss of the s in a form corresponding to zusammen), but it would possibly intensify your problem. In short, compare as one man (can we quote Pratchett "moving as one man ..."?)
I think it is about precision. Compare to a T and to a hair. The precision of the reported statement is specified to be of the magnitude of one man. OK, so perhaps taken literally it means “everyone, except perhaps for one person”. As used, it simply means “everyone”, so “to” is inclusive. Compare also sentences such as “Down to the last person, they all loved it.” Here “to” is inclusive: the last person is included in the collective of lovers.  --Lambiam 04:43, 16 March 2020 (UTC)
@Lambiam: What meaning of TO do you use in your statement "taken literally it means “everyone, except perhaps for one person”." --Backinstadiums (talk) 09:59, 16 March 2020 (UTC)
If you say, “this clock is accurate to a thousandth of a second”, it means that the deviation between the actual time and the time shown is at most a thousandth of a second. I don’t know which meaning of to that is, but it seems to be synonymous with up to in specifying an allowed but limited latitude or looseness.  --Lambiam 10:47, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

@Lambiam: OED reads as follows, yet I do not know where the "a" exactly comes from ("one" as in a countdown?)

IV Followed by a word or phrase expressing a limit in extent, amount, or degree. 
13 Indicating a limit or point attained in degree or amount, or in division or analysis, and thus expressing degree of completeness or exactitude: As far as; to the point of; down to (an ultimate element or item), as in phr. to a hair (hair n. 8 c), to the last man; to a man (including every man, without exception); within (a limit of variation or error), as to an inch, to a day. (See also quots. s.v. down adv. 14.) 

Unfortunately the punctuation makes it really difficult.

According to Webster's, unlike *to a man* or *to a nicety*, neither *to a day* or *to an inch* are idioms. --Backinstadiums (talk) 13:13, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

That is precisely the use of to that I meant. The indefinite article a in to a man basically means “one”. I don’t know the precise rules, but you need to have a somewhat specific reason to use “one”, as when you are counting, or in response to the question “how many?”. On entering a shop you may say, “I’d like to buy a mattress”. If your opening sentence is, “I’d like to buy one mattress”, it sounds a bit weird. Many dictionaries are referred to as Webster’s, like this one; if you mean Merriam-Webster, it is better to use that name.  --Lambiam 15:23, 16 March 2020 (UTC)
@Lambiam: In Latin one can say ad ūnum omnēs. Might there be an influence? PUC 23:58, 21 March 2020 (UTC)
While hard to exclude, this would require that the early uses were from learned scholars who knew Latin well but chose to write in the vernacular, and that the expression then moved from there to a wider use. Note also that in Latin omnes is explicit, while in the English use all is left implied. In the 1869 translation of De Bello Gallico by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn, incolumes ad unum omnes (Book IV, 15) is redundantly translated as “all safe to a man”.  --Lambiam 14:41, 22 March 2020 (UTC)

Chinese characters 由(reason) and its derivative 油(oil) lack an ethimologyEdit

Chinese characters 油(oil) and 由(reason) seem to be resembling a lit oil lamp, but would like some scholastic confirmation on this. Alexceltare2 (talk) 16:10, 18 March 2020 (UTC)

Purely speculatively, 由 could also originally have depicted the emerging sprout of a seedling. The character 油 is a phonosemantic compound, standing for “a fluid (水) that sounds like /*lɯw/ (由)”.  --Lambiam 11:45, 23 March 2020 (UTC)

Proto-Brythonic *aber (estuary)Edit

Is this related to Proto-Celtic *abū (river)? Or is the given etymology of Proto-Celtic *adbero- similar to *ad- + Proto-Indo-European *bʰer-? cf. Jackson & Stockwell p. 107 and Celtica p. 72., of which the latter gives *ad-b(h)er-. DJ K-Çel (talk) 00:23, 19 March 2020 (UTC)

Actually, looks like Etymonline supports *ad- + *ber (to carry). DJ K-Çel (talk) 00:25, 19 March 2020 (UTC)
Sources added. --{{victar|talk}} 03:00, 19 March 2020 (UTC)
Awesome, thanks man. DJ K-Çel (talk) 03:35, 19 March 2020 (UTC)
I've moved the page back to Reconstruction:Proto-Brythonic/aber (not *aβer) because (1) the modern Brythonic words all have /b/, not /v/, and (2) we expect Proto-Celtic -db- to give an unlenited /b/, not a lenited /β/ between vowels. I can't find any Old Irish etymon for Irish abar and suspect it's actually a loanword from Welsh rather than a word inherited from PC. —Mahāgaja · talk 06:57, 19 March 2020 (UTC)
@Mahagaja: My mistake. Thanks for fixing that. Yeah, I wondered the same thing with the Irish form. We do have OI óbar, úabar (vein) though. See *beros. --{{victar|talk}} 07:01, 19 March 2020 (UTC)

Old Norse systir and its first vowelEdit

(Notifying Rua, Wikitiki89, Benwing2, Mnemosientje): Its first vowel /y/ appears out of thin air. The only outcome for Proto-Germanic initial /sw/ is /sv/ in Norse. In Proto-Norse, only the sw/sv form appears, as predicted. But in Old Norse, the /v/ vanished and an umlaut vowel /y/ turns up where /ve/ should be in the first syllable. I was wondering how did systir ended up with /y/ instead of /ve/. /y/ generally comes from i-umlauted /u/, but other than a far-fetched connection with the zero-grade I don't know how that's helpful. mellohi! (僕の乖離) 20:40, 20 March 2020 (UTC)

Pinging also @Anglom, Leasnam for potential interest. 20:55, 20 March 2020 (UTC)

Well, there is an intermediate in Proto-Norse ᛊᚹᛖᛊᛏᚨᚱ (swestar), so the change from PGmc we to y was not immediate from PGmc, but appears to be due to an early Scandinavian phonological change Leasnam (talk) 19:40, 21 March 2020 (UTC)
@Leasnam: Which affected no other words in we, such as what became sverð. mellohi! (僕の乖離) 23:08, 21 March 2020 (UTC)
Correct, I believe this is the only aberration of its kind. Leasnam (talk) 03:48, 22 March 2020 (UTC)

dark kitchenEdit

Obviously this is dark + kitchen, but are they so-called due to the lack of windows? Could it be the relative lack of visibility? or analogy to some other Internet or business jargon? This is a relatively recent coinage (c. 2018), so in principle it could be traceable. Cnilep (talk) 07:24, 21 March 2020 (UTC)

The oldest use I found is here, in an article from 2015-12-25 in The Economic Times (of India). Web.archive.org confirms that the text is indeed from 2015. The analogy with the older term dark store should be obvious, so I suppose the metaphor jumped from stores to kitchens. I think the attribute simply means “hidden” (although not sinister), i.e. “not visible” (to the public at large).  --Lambiam 14:18, 22 March 2020 (UTC)


Can anyone find or speculate on the etymology for this future WOTD? Maybe from an Indian (as in India) language? —This unsigned comment was added by DTLHS (talkcontribs) at 07:21, 22 March 2020‎.

For an animal found in South America, an Indian (as in India) language is unlikely. How did the name change from salempenta to salipenter? Assuming these are based on hearing a local term pronounced, one might guess something like /sɑlɛ̃ˈpɛntə/. The oldest reports from European explorers place this in what is now Guyana, so the indigenous language may have been Arawak. However, it appears that the phoneme /p/ does not occur in native Arawak words, making this more unlikely. A next guess is one of the Guianan Carib languages. Since these languages are poorly documented, it may be hard to find the etymon.  --Lambiam 13:21, 22 March 2020 (UTC)
Many indentured labourers were brought from India to Guyana during British colonial times to work on the sugar cane plantations, and now the Indo-Guyanese form the largest ethnic group in Guyana, about 40% of the population in 2012. Thus, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the word salipenter originates from an Indian language. — SGconlaw (talk) 15:03, 22 March 2020 (UTC)
Actually, it seems like the 1825 date of the earliest quotation is too early for any Indian influence, although I could be wrong. DTLHS (talk) 16:18, 22 March 2020 (UTC)
Good point. Our Wikipedia article on "w:Indo-Guyanese" dates the first arrivals to 5 May 1838. Looking at the articles, "w:Afro-Guyanese" and "w:Guyana", the word could well be from an African language (the Dutch brought people over in slavery in the 17th century) or from one of the indigenous languages; "[t]he indigenous groups include the Arawaks, the Wai Wai, the Caribs, the Akawaio, the Arecuna, the Patamona, the Wapixana, the Macushi and the Warao". Looks like it's going to be very hard to pin down the etymology. — SGconlaw (talk) 16:31, 22 March 2020 (UTC)

Resembles vaguely salamander. PUC – 15:10, 22 March 2020 (UTC)


The etymology section says カップ (kappu) is "cognate" with コップ (koppu), since both derive ultimately from Late Latin cuppa. Wouldn't that make them doublets? Or are both descriptors accurate, with doublets a sub-set of cognates? Cnilep (talk) 03:13, 26 March 2020 (UTC)

Doublets are cognates. They are (by definition) a pair of words in the same language. Cognates in general can also be words in different languages.  --Lambiam 12:19, 26 March 2020 (UTC)


This is a dialectal (also Scots) and historical term meaning "southern" or "southerner". The page gives the following etymology:

Likely from a Northumbrian alteration of earlier Old English suþern, suþærn. The switch from -ern to -ron is likely due to the influence of Old Norse rann (place, house, home) on Old English ærn (home, place).

It should be noted that the -ern of standard English southern has no etymological connection whatsoever to OE ærn, so for the described change to have happened would require reanalysis of the suffix by folk etymology.
This seems an unnecessarily convoluted explanation, given that Old Norse's word for "southern" already closely parallels that in question: suðrœnn, where the suffix is of the shape /rVn/ with a rounded vowel. Hence, direct influence from that word seems a priori more simple and therefore likely. But if the posited change is well-documented and parallels other ON > Northumbrian loans, all the page needs is a trustworthy source and maybe a clearer explanation of what happened. — 16:21, 27 March 2020 (UTC)

Odd, i just noticed that we dont have eastron or westron. Perhaps those are nonstandard to a greater degree than southron is, or are pronunciations not represented in spelling (though we don't list the variant pronunciations either). Soap 07:37, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
A simpler explanation: try taking a look at a map of Britain, and see if you can find any contiguous land to the west or the east of Northumbria... —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:39, 29 March 2020 (UTC)


Tagged but doesn't appear to have been listed. The query is whether ūrīnor (to dive) derives from ūrīna (urine). — SGconlaw (talk) 16:55, 27 March 2020 (UTC)

Wow, this has been tagged since 6 November 2015.  --Lambiam 19:59, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
The entry ūrīna in de Vaan lists ūrīnārī and ūrīnātor as derivatives. I guess the latter is a second-order derivative. As to the sense development, de Vaan writes that “[t]he meaning of the verb shows that ‘urine’ is a secondary development” and that “[t]he original meaning must then have been ‘water’”. He further mentions that some other etymologists, however, entertain the theory that ūrīna is a back-formation from the verb, or alternatively that its original meaning is in fact “urine”, with the noun ūrīnātor stemming from the observation that divers typically suffer diuresis while diving.  --Lambiam 13:31, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
Do we know the identity of the -īn- part of the word? Is it possible that it's the same morpheme as in gallina, or even the adjective-forming -inus? Regarding semantic change, I wonder if the Greek word οὖρον "urine" may have helped. It's not clear that the two words are even cognates, but the pronunciation would have been similar. Soap 14:49, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
As to the -īn- suffix, de Vaan hypothesizes a Proto-Italian adjective *ūr-īno- “watery”, formed from a noun *ūr(o)- “water”, and Latin -īnus is indeed inherited from Proto-Italic *-īnos. De Vaan does not list οὖρον (oûron) among the cognates, but mentions that Walde–Hoffman (who also assess cognacy as unlikely) think it may have influenced the sense development.  --Lambiam 20:23, 28 March 2020 (UTC)
See also Oleson's 1976 paper and discussion of the same question on the Latin Stack Exchange. --Thrasymedes (talk) 20:50, 31 March 2020 (UTC)


Currently divided into a blank Etymology 1 ("silverberry"), and Etymology 2 ("gummy candy") from German. My guess would be that the "silverberry" sense is also from German, or possibly from Elaeagnus or from English jujube, but those are just guesses. Japanese-language Wikipedia says it's native Japanese, from グイ (“thorn” – maybe (くい) (kui)?) + () (mi, fruit), but cites no published source. Cnilep (talk) 04:51, 28 March 2020 (UTC)

  • @Cnilep: I've expanded the entry. The Nihon Jiten entry (http://www.nihonjiten.com/data/46007.html) mentions a possible connection with ぐい (gui) and seems to suggest that this is a reading for , but I can't find any resource that lists this reading for this character. There is the ぐい (gui) adverb with a sense of "quick and sharp action", which could be interpreted as poke, as indeed some bilingual resources do (Weblio), and this KDJ entry mentions that this term ぐい (gui) is an archaic synonym for 野茨 (noibara, Rosa multiflora, a kind of wild rose), reinforcing the apparent likelihood of an underlying poke, thorn sense.
At any rate, please have a look. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 06:00, 28 March 2020 (UTC)


Does Grabmal have anything to do with гробница ? —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 18:25, 28 March 2020‎ (UTC).

Yes; the former is from Proto-Germanic *grabą (grave) and the latter from Proto-Slavic *grobъ (grave), which are both from Proto-Indo-European *gʰrebʰ- (to dig). —Mahāgaja · talk 18:52, 28 March 2020 (UTC)

Min Nan pháiⁿ 歹Edit

The etymology of Min Nan pháiⁿ (歹) is unclear. The entry currently says it derives from (fǒu), but this character has multiple readings and contested etymologies. (Historical variation in the orthography of Chinese negative particles is partly explained in the entry for (). Some of this discussion belongs in the entry for (fǒu) but that is another matter.) A source that carefully discusses the etymology of the Min Nan word pháiⁿ (歹) would be appreciated. Freelance Intellectual (talk) 18:14, 29 March 2020 (UTC)


The English and Italian etymologies don't seem to agree with each other. According to the English one, the word is derived from the name of a city, according to the Italian one, from the name of a spider. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 19:50, 29 March 2020 (UTC)

Well, the word is a bit confusing: it seems to be first diagnosed from Apulia (the region where Taranto is located), but claimed to be caused by a spider's bite. That spider is in turn named after the city of Taranto, supposedly due to its commonness there. I think the spider part is a folk etymology introduced through medical and etymological confusion, but maybe someone with handy OED access can check. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:35, 29 March 2020 (UTC)
The OED entry for tarantism (not updated since 1910) indicates the following, which I have rephrased and marked up in Wikitext: "From New Latin tarantismus, from Old Italian Taranto (seaport in southern Italy) + Latin -ismus (suffix forming nouns of action, process, or result); see further at tarantula. The English word is cognate with French tarentisme, Italian tarantismo.[1]" The OED also notes that the word is "popularly associated with [Italian] tarantola the tarantula spider", but I take this to be a folk etymology. This isn't mentioned in Lexico. — SGconlaw (talk) 21:10, 29 March 2020 (UTC)
See w:Tarentella for more ways that people have muddled together various things named after Tarento... Chuck Entz (talk) 06:06, 30 March 2020 (UTC)
I have modified the Italian entry now that the OED has supported my opinion. I find their derivation through New Latin rather suspect, as it fails to explain the French vocalism as neatly as a simple suffixation in each language, but I suppose the words can be easily modified to appear native. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 06:34, 30 March 2020 (UTC)



Would a Punjabi speaker kindly update the etymology for panda ((Hinduism) a brahmin who acts as the hereditary superintendent of a particular ghat or temple, and is regarded as knowledgeable in matters of genealogy and ritual)? Thanks. — SGconlaw (talk) 13:01, 30 March 2020 (UTC)

Could the term be ਪੰਡਤ (paḍata)? This is used in the Punjabi Wiktionary to define the meaning of the collective term ਉਲਮਾ (ulamā), as well as in several articles on the Punjabi Wikipedia for people who have the title “Pandit” in English, such as Pandit Lekh Ram.  --Lambiam 07:39, 31 March 2020 (UTC)
@Sgconlaw: I have added the Punjabi term. Lambiam, if that were the word the etymology was looking for, it wouldn't be relevant enough to put in the etymology in the first place... —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 18:04, 31 March 2020 (UTC)
@Lambiam, Metaknowledge: much obliged. Oh, if either of you (or anyone else) knows Nepali, etymology 1 is also lacking the Nepali script for a word transcribed as nigālyā which apparently means "bamboo cane-eating". — SGconlaw (talk) 18:20, 31 March 2020 (UTC)
@Sgconlaw: I don't think that part belongs in the etymology, as it hasn't got much to do with the English word panda, which is what the etymology is supposed to be about. In any case, per Turner, it looks like some weird representation of निँगाले (nĩgāle), the adjectival form of निँगालो (nĩgālo), an alternative form of निङालो (niṅālo, Drepanostachyum intermedium). But again, that's not really relevant... —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 18:51, 31 March 2020 (UTC)
I’d say it explains the compound word cited by Hodgson. — SGconlaw (talk) 19:06, 31 March 2020 (UTC)
@Sgconlaw: On one hand, concision is a virtue, but on the other, I can imagine a reader asking where that part comes from, so I suppose you should add it in. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 19:34, 31 March 2020 (UTC)
@Metaknowledge: OK, thanks. — SGconlaw (talk) 20:17, 31 March 2020 (UTC)

Similarity between nk and Arabic ناكEdit

Some time after I had created the page about Egyptian nk, I noticed the Arabic word ناك (nāka) which has the same meaning and looks simular. I have never created any etymology and I don't have any experiences. So I ask here if it is possible to mention and compare it in the etymology. Zhnka (talk) 16:40, 31 March 2020 (UTC)


I have merged some of the ety sections of less as being very closely related and not meriting a top-level ety split. However, I am not sure about the conjunction sense of "unless". Should this be kept separate or not? (presently it is separate) Mihia (talk) 17:14, 31 March 2020 (UTC)

April 2020


Our etymology first says this is from corona (circle of light) (as in stellar corona) and then says it's from corona (crown) (referring to the crown-like spikes). Which is it? I've more often heard the second explanation. See also the question on the talk page about whether this compound was formed in English or derives from the old genus name (or the other way round). - -sche (discuss) 01:35, 3 April 2020 (UTC)

I don't have access to the 1968 Nature paper but that seems like a good place to start looking. DTLHS (talk) 01:37, 3 April 2020 (UTC)
Found it: "Particles are more or less rounded in profile; although there is a certain amount of poly-morphism, there is also a characteristic "fringe" of projections 200 A long, which are rounded or petal shaped, rather than sharp or pointed, as in the myxoviruses. This appearance, recalling the solar corona, is shared by mouse hepatitis virus and several viruses recently recovered from man, namely strain B814, 229E and several others." DTLHS (talk) 04:39, 3 April 2020 (UTC)
It was correct until fairly recently.  --Lambiam 07:21, 3 April 2020 (UTC)

Irish reithine (calm, tranquility)Edit

Any ideas on this one? It's apparently cognate with the Gaulish source of the tribe Ruteni, but I can't find it in any etymological dictionaries... DJ K-Çel (talk) 00:24, 4 April 2020 (UTC)

Can you please stop working on Celtic tribe name etymologies, thanks. --{{victar|talk}} 00:44, 4 April 2020 (UTC)

like, once againEdit

After the etymologies for like were consolidated, it would be nice if the roots would be carefully checked up. Now it just looks as if the ugly bits were swept under the carpet.

Many people will appreciate a clean main space, but the large etymologies are impenetrable if the meat is between the lines while the roots offer little insight. The truth might be that what looks like a paradigm is rather poorly understood. The entry for PIE *leyg- is not what the link promisses and "body" (or "corpse") remains a Germanic isogloss. There's no proper treatment of the paradigm, only marginalia and miscellania in the literature, I expect, as if it was a certain fact. There's not a single reference noted in these pages. The first reference I consulted, Kroonen, rather disagrees with these pages, though also not fully convincing. Can't say I like to complain. 03:44, 6 April 2020 (UTC)

materialism, matérialismeEdit

The etymologies of English materialism and French matérialisme can rightly be called a circular mess. Online Merriam-Webster gives a late 17th century date for the English. TLFi dates the French to the early 18th century and supports the etymology in the French entry. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 16:48, 6 April 2020 (UTC)

In the chapter ”Boyle’s Influence on Locke” of the book The Bloomsbury Companion to Robert Boyle (Jan-Erik Jones, editor; 2019; Bloomsbury Publishing; ISBN 978-1-3500-2935-4) Peter R. Anstey wrotes, on p. 59, that in the French edition of 1700 of Essay IV. iii. 16, the translator, Pierre Coste, translated Boyle’s term “corpuscularian Hypothesis” by “l’hypothese des Philosophes Materialistes” [the italics are Anstey’s], which is explained in a gloss to mean those “'who explain the effects of nature by the sole consideration of the size, figure and movement of the parts of matter” – thus, similar to the natural philosophy of Democritus, not what now is understood by the term. Perhaps the French term matérialisme was also introduced by the translator. Unfortunately, it is not clear which work is meant by “Essay”. The date 1674 in the etymology section of matérialisme suggests that it is something Boyle originally published in 1674 – but perhaps it refers to another translation that appeared that year. Le Trésor mentions the title “The Excellency and Grounds of the mechanical Hypothesis”, which is according to other sources an annex to “The Excellency of Theology compared with Natural Philosophy”, written in 1665. Indeed, both GBS (‎No preview) and the French Wikipedia’s article on Robert Boyle give 1674 for “The Excellency of Theology compared with Natural Philosophy” (French title: L’Excellence de la théologie comparée à la philosophie naturelle). Then, in the chapter “Boyle’s Epistemology: The Interaction between Scientific and Religious Knowledge” in the same book, J. J. Macintosh has a section entitled “The argument [for the existence of God. —L.] from the necessary failure of materialism”. The author sketches Boyle’s argument, which is twofold. The description of the first one, which is similar to that of the watchmaker, starts with the words, “Materialism (‘somatism’) relies too much on chance”. This suggests (to me) that the term somatism is Boyle’s for what now is understood by “materialism“. Boyle formulated and embraced the “corpuscularian Hypothesis” for explaining phenomena in the realms of chemistry and physics, but rejected materialism as we understand the term for explaining life and the mind.  --Lambiam 21:01, 6 April 2020 (UTC)
@Lambiam thank you for that, that's quite an article. :) Perhaps one option is that English materialism was modelled on French matérialiste. Such a direction would also be consistent with the dates given by the dictionaries, though of course they aren't very far apart and there might well be older uses in either language. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 13:43, 7 April 2020 (UTC)

wildernis, wildernessEdit

The etymology given at wildernis would seem to imply that the fact that the English and Dutch cognates here appear formationally identical is a coincidence (when contrasted with, say, German Wildnis).

@Rua @Lambiam: Is this probable? Tharthan (talk) 01:55, 7 April 2020 (UTC)

The etymology in the entry is practically identical to the one provided by the Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands. Nederlands Etymologisch Woordenboek elaborates on the English term, stating that it presumably wasn't borrowed from continental Germanic, but is related to the noun wilder, wildor with the meaning "game, wild animal(s)" (it is not clarified what stage of English this is, but there's an entry here for Old English). [4] ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 09:10, 7 April 2020 (UTC)
I assume that by “German cognate” you (Thartan) mean Wildnis. To complicate the issue, there is also a poetic variant Wildernis, found e.g. in Goethe’s Faust.[5] The Grimms give two more attestations.[6] According to Trübners dictionary this form is found from the 16th to 19th century.[7]
    Tinne van Rompaey has written a detailed account of the diachronic development of several Dutch nominalizing suffixes (“A diachronic account of Dutch -nis, -heid, -dom and -schap”. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde 129:2 (2013), pp. 87–121. Download PDF). Inasmuch as relevant, the following is a summary. The suffix -(e)nesse, -(e)nisse, originally deverbal and very productive, was generalized in Old Dutch to also being deadjectival. Like most other etymologists, she ascribes the r in Middle Dutch wildernisse to the majority of adjectives used with -nisse ending in -er, as seen e.g. in duysternisse, from Old Dutch thiusternussi. But she also offers an alternative theory (p. 95), viz. that this was influenced by the co-existence of the synonym wildert (“desert”). Van Rompaey calls wildernisse “Late Middle Dutch”, but the Vroegmiddelnederlands Woordenboek states the word is attested as early as 1279. It also ascribes the r to the influence of other words such as donkernesse and deemsternesse.  --Lambiam 12:18, 7 April 2020 (UTC)

ax to grindEdit

Why have two etymology sections? PUC – 14:20, 7 April 2020 (UTC)