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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


October 2018

Hebrew abstract suffix -ות: doublet of the plural suffix? (Evidence in Phoenician & possible fossilized remnants in Hebrew)Edit

See Krahmalkov's Phoenician-Punic Grammar (pp. 136-137), beginning at "4. Abstract Noun Expressed by the Plural Noun": Krahmalkov says that in Phoenician the plural was commonly used with an abstract meaning, whether it was the plural in -ūt or -īm, and this seems very well-attested.

Krahmalkov goes on to give Hebrew examples, such as Jeremiah 3:19: אֲשִׁיתֵ֣ךְ בַּבָּנִ֔ים. Chabad translates this as "place you among the sons," but Krahmalkov is arguing that it means "place you in sonship" -> "adopt you as my son." These are compared to examples Krahmalkov gives in Phoenician: "W’P B’BT P`LN KL MLK", "And every king adopted me as his father"; "B`LYTN QMD’ ’Š `L’ BBNM ’T M`QR BN G`Y", "Balitho Commodus, who was adopted in sonship alongside Macer son of Gaius")...

He also points to ימים meaning "time" as another fossilized remnant in Hebrew.

All of which brings me to the question, is the Hebrew abstract suffix -ות simply a generalization of a more archaic form of the plural in -ot? פֿינצטערניש (talk) 12:28, 2 October 2018 (UTC)

Rudolf Meyer writes in his Hebräische Grammatik § 56, 2a): “Das alte Abstraktafformativ -ūṯ, das sekundär im Hebr. mit einer F.-Bildung der Stämme III ו auf -t zusammengefallen ist (§ 41, 5b), hat erst unter aram. Einfluß zunehmend an Bedeutung gewonnen.” And § 41, 5b he writes that the abstraction suffix -ūṯ exists in Akkadian and presumably Ugaritic (not seen well in the writing). And in § 41, 5c he mentions an Abstraktafformativ -ōṯ that is “sehr selten und fraglich”. And in the few forms where it is found like חָכְמוֹת (ḥāḵmōṯ, wisdom) Prov. 1,20 according to him there could be Phoenician influence. Also he mentions an abstraction suffix -iṯ.
Anyway which “archaic form of the plural in -ot?”? The feminine plural suffix in Semitic is -āt from which by the Canaanite vowel shift Hebrew has -ōt. Fay Freak (talk) 13:32, 2 October 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for the information/clarification. I am not a Semiticist or a linguist, just a casual fanatic. I didn't see any etymology given for the abstract suffix, so wanted to ask the question. פֿינצטערניש (talk) 13:53, 2 October 2018 (UTC)
Definitely not going to be an archaic form. The Proto-Semitic form of the feminine plural is "-āt", which is raised to "-ōt" in Canaanite. In Phoenician it is raised again to "-ūt". According to the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages, the abstract "-ūt" is an independent suffix which already has that form in Proto-Semitic (and probably staying distinct in Late Punic as well as Hebrew, with Late Punic apparently fronting inherited u/ū > i/ī meaning the PSm endings "-āt" & "-ūt" > Late Punic "-ūt" & "-īt" and Hebrew "-ōṯ" & "-ūṯ". Unfortunately, given the relative lack of matres lectionis until very late in the Phoenician corpus (and even then, mostly restricted to non-native words), it's difficult to be confident of the vocalisation of Punic. The examples given in Krahmalkov of feminine plurals being abstracts don't have vowels specified so can't be distinguished from an inherited PSm "-ūt" (which is supported by its presence "-ūt" in Akkadian where the feminine plural is still "-āt"). The masculine plural examples could be abstracts but it seems simpler to say it's a form of metonomy (so I'd side with Chabad's translation as closer, albeit possibly sounding overly literal). Tristanjlroberts (talk) 00:36, 13 October 2018 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology. Isn't it from phylogenetic, phylogenesis or phylogeny? — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 08:35, 4 October 2018 (UTC)

I’m fairly convinced the word phylogenetics was formed to have a noun for a branch of study involving phylogenetic relationships. The existence at the time of the older term genetics will have helped to make the new coinage respectable. The word occurs in an 1899 article by William Morton Wheeler in The American Naturalist on the life and writings of the German-American zoologist George Baur (“Thereupon he went to Leipzig, and during the winter of 1880–81 and the following summer semester studied comparative anatomy with Leuckart, geology with Credner, and phylogenetics with Carus.”).  --Lambiam 18:56, 4 October 2018 (UTC)
I have been bold and brave, and changed the etymology to state that it is a back-formation from phylogenetic.  --Lambiam 20:35, 6 October 2018 (UTC)
@Lambiam: Are you sure it should be a back-formation? Back-formations usually remove a supposed affix, not add one. — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 21:16, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
Oxford Dictionaries defines it as “A word that is formed from an already existing word from which it appears to be a derivative, often by removal of a suffix”. Wikipedia and Wiktionary give a stricter definition in which affix removal is the sole possibility. When I rewrote the etymology section I applied the broader notion. I am pretty sure that the genesis process went Phylogenese +‎ -ischphylogenetischphylogeneticphylogenetics, so the word phylogenetics was derived from the already existing word phylogenetic.  --Lambiam 06:45, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
After rethinking the issue, I’ve changed the etymology to phylogenetic +‎ -ics. While our current definition of back-formation may be too narrow, the way I used it was too broad. I like this definition, found on the Web [1]: “A back-formation is a reverse derivation. E.g. if X is a back-formation of Y, this means that we invent X as a putative form from which we suppose that Y could have been, but wasn't, derived.” It is not so narrow as to insist that the supposed derivation process is suffixation, but not broad enough to cover phylogeneticphylogenetics.  --Lambiam 12:09, 11 October 2018 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology.

Are either Hwæssingatūn or Hwæssa actually attested? Or is this a reconstruction? --Lvovmauro (talk) 11:26, 4 October 2018 (UTC)

It appears to me that this etymology was copied from the Wikipedia article Washington Old Hall or from any of several websites copying this from Wikipedia and is lacking a usable source. On Wikipedia this started with the claim that “the estate is of Saxon origin, being "Hwaessa", "Ing" and "Tun", Hwassa's family lands.” This was gradually embellished to the forms in which it was copied, also stepwise, to Wiktionary. Most of the time the claim on Wikipedia went uncited, except for some time when it was circularly cited.  --Lambiam 04:54, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

PIE #h₃- > PAnat. *dʒ- > Hit. š-Edit

I paper was just published on the development of PIE #h₃- to Proto-Anatolian *dʒ- in the vicinity of a labiovelar, Anyone have any thoughts to the veracity of this claim? @Tom 144, JohnC5, Mahagaja? --Victar (talk) 00:17, 5 October 2018 (UTC)

Phonetically, I hate it. Do we have any other cases of the correspondece represented by *dʒ, perhaps in substrate words?
To veer off established PIE reconstruction, what if labiality of seemingly caused by the *h₃ is instead somehow correlated with the following labiovelars and the initial is a disappearing segment unrelated to *h₃.
To add another example to strange sound changes-at-a-distance corpus, there's Manchu *t>s before č/j. Crom daba (talk) 14:24, 5 October 2018 (UTC)
I found it a bit insouciant of the author to wholly discredit the possibility of an s-mobile, a long supported theory, just because it isn't found in other languages. It could also simply be that #sh₃{R,V}- has a different development in Anatolian than other languages. --Victar (talk) 15:48, 5 October 2018 (UTC)
Yeah, that is a weak spot, but why don't we have any examples of this in combination in words that don't have labiovelars in them? Crom daba (talk) 17:31, 5 October 2018 (UTC)
True, but you could argue that not all those words require labiovelars, i.e **h₃óngʷn̥ (fat, butter, oil, salve), when it could be *sh₃ónǵ⁽ʰ⁾n̥ (cf. Kloekhorst *sónǵ⁽ʰ⁾-n) > Hit. šāgan, Luv. tāῑn.
Side note: The more I read his paper, the more I'm put off by his mocking attitude towards previous works -- really unprofessional. --Victar (talk) 20:01, 5 October 2018 (UTC)
@Tom 144, I'm surprised I never heard back from you on this. --Victar (talk) 00:56, 27 October 2018 (UTC)
@Victar: I'm sorry, I forgot about this conversation. I don't buy this either. I personally don't think *h₃ was labialized, specially because there are etymons such as *h₃ep-, and *h₃érō which are expressed in Hittite as "ḫ" instead of "ḫu". Besides, I find the sound change *ʕʷ > *d͡ʒ quite difficult to believe. It would make sense if this change was triggered by a front vowel or a glide, but dissimilatory labialization doesn't seem very convincing. I found the arguments pretty thin, given that šakuwa- already has an stablished etymology, and in my view the labiovelar in *h₃óngʷn̥ should be preserved in Hittite. I reject the delabialization rule proposed by Manaster Ramer of a labiovelar before an *m, *n, *l or *s. As counter examples I could think of *négʷ-ment-s > ne-ku-ma-an-za, e-uk-ši < *h₁egʷʰ-si. The only thing that I find a little disturbing is the constant š ~ t Hittite-Luwian correspondance. Tom 144 (𒄩𒇻𒅗𒀸) 14:51, 27 October 2018 (UTC)
@Tom 144, any theories to the š ~ t problem? --Victar (talk) 16:10, 27 October 2018 (UTC)


How obstinate are swine ? are they characteristically known to be so ?

Because I have thought long and hard over the years about the etymology of stubborn, where it always seemed blatantly obvious to me that the second element (if it's actually a compound word) is borne or born.

I used to think that it might be equivalent to stow +‎ borne, as in "place-borne, carrying a place" => "not movable" => "stubborn"; but "place-borne/place-carried" doesn't really make much sense...

However, the earliest attestations of this word are as stibourne, styborne, stiborn, where it seems apparent that the initial vowel was originally long i (written variably as y) and that it gradually became short, since the word originally possessed three syllables, with stress on the initial syllable. So an Old English reconstruction might be *stīborene, or *stīboren, which on the surface looks exactly like sty-born (born in a (pig-)sty), and would naturally have been a derogatory adjective (compare English pig-headed (obstinate, stubborn).

So back to my original question, to those who may have grown up on farms and been acquainted with the ways of pigs: are pigs characteristically stubborn ? Leasnam (talk) 23:16, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

I did not grow up on a farm, but I watched a documentary about a pig named Babe, and that pig was indeed stubborn in a determined way, but at the same time inordinately polite.  --Lambiam 20:55, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

Portuguese sino, ensinarEdit

Anyone have any idea what Portuguese sino and etymologically related words like ensinar are as far as inheritance or semi-learned-ness? From Latin signum we have both Portuguese senho (archaic) and sino, which despite not following phonetic rules took on the specialized and different meaning of bell, one shared with apparently inherited cognates in older Catalan or Occitan. We also see the more commonly used senha from Latin signa. When it comes to ensinar, most of the other Romance cognates, like Spanish enseñar, turned the Latin -i- in insignare into an -e-, with the exception of some southern Italian languages where that's not expected. Maybe it was a case of being originally inherited but later modified somewhat to reflect the Latin? There's also desenhar, which some Portuguese dictionaries list as coming through an Italian intermediate and others as straight from Latin. Word dewd544 (talk) 22:16, 8 October 2018 (UTC)

I don‘t know the answer but want to point out that there is also sinal from Latin signale, so the phenomenon is rather widespread. And then there is poetic or obsolete dino from Old Portuguese digno from Latin dignus, and similarly malino.  --Lambiam 08:58, 9 October 2018 (UTC)
True, there are also those words. Considering that many of these Portuguese words share the same semantic development as inherited Romance cognates in other languages, I'm tempted to think they were maybe popular terms but partially altered later. But it's hard to find good concrete info on this. For now, just to be safe, I'll use the 'derived' template, since it's a bit ambiguous. Word dewd544 (talk) 16:36, 10 October 2018 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology, which supposes a Latin fiscalitas. (Note that the supposed Latin etymon originally read fiscalité, but I've Latinised the form because that was an obvious error.) ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 12:58, 10 October 2018 (UTC)

If Dutch fiscaliteit is from French fiscalité, for which all sources say that it is from fiscal + -ité, we don’t have to involve any supposed Latin terms.  --Lambiam 20:13, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
  Modified accordingly.  --Lambiam 07:58, 24 October 2018 (UTC)


Why should this be connected with Swedish and Faroese? Any other evidence or references? DTLHS (talk) 01:32, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

Obviously BS etymologies by Irman should be removed on sight. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 01:37, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Ditto to that. --Victar (talk) 02:22, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

Nek aan nekEdit

The Dutch equivalent of neck and neck is nek aan nek, mainly used in the compound noun nek-aan-nekrace, but also adverbially in, e.g., nek aan nek gaan. I wonder if it is the etymon of the English term. The literal meaning of the Dutch term is “neck to neck”, which makes more sense semantically; compare also French coude à coude, German Kopf an Kopf and Portuguese pau a pau, all of which mean literally “neck to neck”. Phonetically, with unstressed aan and and, the Dutch and English expressions are almost the same, /nɛkəˈnɛk/. If the English was copied from Dutch, this would explain the anomalous connective and. All together, I feel that my conjecture is plausible. But is it plausible enough to record it at our entry neck and neck?  --Lambiam 13:52, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

What are the earliest known uses of the two expressions? DTLHS (talk) 16:07, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
The oldest cite I could find for Dutch was from 1845, in a translation of Disraeli's Sybil,[2] with another cite soon after shown here. It becomes a common phrase in written Dutch in the 1880s. It's also absent from the WNT. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 07:05, 12 October 2018 (UTC)
According to the entry “neck” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2018., the idiom neck and neck is attested from 1799. I found a Dutch occurrence of the collocation, in the archaic but then prevalent spelling neck aen neck, in a 1634 tragedy entitled Dido. However, in the context (an early-morning hunt), the sense there is not the idiomatic sense of a close race, but of dogs forced to move neck to neck in tandem, being bound by reins.  --Lambiam 09:37, 12 October 2018 (UTC)

Polish żerEdit

This term needs an etymology.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 03:21, 13 October 2018 (UTC)

colonel, lieutenantEdit

Could someone add an explanation of how these words ended up with the pronunciation they have (the R sound in "colonel" and the F sound in one pronunciation of "lieutenant")? Andrew Sheedy (talk) 22:02, 14 October 2018 (UTC)

The r in colonel is due to its originally being coronel. The f in lieutenant isn't quite so clear. It's possible that the u in lieu was pronounced by at least a few people as something like a v at some point, in which case the following t in the compound would have caused it to devoice to an f through assimilation. Chuck Entz (talk) 23:56, 14 October 2018 (UTC)


hutte and Hütte give different etymologies for hutta. --Espoo (talk) 07:32, 15 October 2018 (UTC)


RFV of this part of the glyph origin added by an anon: "Some have suggested a contrast with , interpreting the latter as a weapon with tip pointing outward." — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 23:53, 15 October 2018 (UTC)

What did they mean by this? represents a loom, There's plenty of examples of oracle having arrow-like glyphs but representing something different. Lucasgoode (talk) 18:04, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

I'm not really sure. I think they're comparing it to just because it's used as a pronoun, like . — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 18:46, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

The "young woman" sense of English dell and Dutch delEdit

Was wondering about the second etymology of Dutch del when I noticed that the English sense "young woman" over at dell is added under the same etymology as the landform. I was wondering what this was based on? There seems to be a big semantic difference. Also note the different etymology I added at the Dutch entry, which I took from M. Philippa's Etymologisch woordenboek van het Nederlands ( If that derivation is correct, the Dutch and English terms are related to dol and dull, respectively (see I'm finding it a bit difficult to find any definite info, though, and am not sure whether this could then be traced back to Proto-Germanic or whether it may be a loan? — Mnemosientje (t · c) 18:09, 17 October 2018 (UTC)

@Mnemosientje All the English dictionaries I checked that had the sense "wench" also split the etymologies, so I think you're good to go as far as splitting goes. The sense was added in 2012 (diff). ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:53, 18 October 2018 (UTC)


The Spanish has an Andalusian Arabic term, but its spelling is very odd. Could anybody check? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:28, 18 October 2018 (UTC)

I find an Arabic term فداوش for noodle in a recipe, stating that its etymon is فيداوس (the odd spelling) citing a book by Ibn Rezin Al-Tajibi (إبن رزين التجيبي), but unfortunately not identifying the book further. The Spanish Wiktionary has the Romanization fidáwš. According to the French Wiktionary, the Spanish term was borrowed from Catalan fideu. The Catalan Wiktionary gives no etymology for fideu, and only the sense conger eel. The Etymology section for fideu in the Catalan Wikipedia cites the book Catalan Cuisine, which states that the term “apparently derives originally from the Arabic word fada, meaning to be abundant or to overflow (...), and seems to have entered the Romance languages ... by way of Mozarabic (...) and then Catalan.”  --Lambiam 12:55, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
@Lambiam Thanks a lot for that. فداوش certainly is in widespread use as Maghrebi Arabic at least, so that's probably where the spelling comes from. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 13:15, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
The Diccionario Crítico Etimológico de la Lengua Castellana by Coromines affirms a Mozarabic origin, but seems to suggest it came from a Mozarabic verb fidear, from Arabic. He doesn't say it entered Spanish via Catalan. It's a long entry and someone who actually knows Spanish could find a lot in it. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 13:31, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
Dozy, Reinhart Pieter Anne (1881), “فِداوش and فِداوِيش and فِدَوش”, in Supplément aux dictionnaires arabes (in French), volume 2, Leiden: E. J. Brill, page 245.
I cast doubts upon the derivation from فَاضَ (fāḍa). Emphatics and non-emphatics don’t just switch; however close they might appear to non-Semites, they aren’t close. Dictionaries also list a terribly uncommon and hardly attestable فَدَشَ (fadaša) “to break, to crack”, but that noodle-word does not seem to be Arabic proper anyway, the shapes are no derivational form I know of. Maybe @Profes.I. knows what it is. Fay Freak (talk) 13:00, 19 October 2018 (UTC)

audio, videoEdit

It seems like there's more to these than simply direct borrowings from the Latin verb forms, see [3]. DTLHS (talk) 22:55, 18 October 2018 (UTC)

Based on the sources mentioned at that link I think we should say that audio is from the prefix audio-, which is from the root audi of Latin audio + -o-. For video we should say it is from the root vide of Latin video + -o-, formed in analogy to audio. That these forms are the same as the Latin first-person singular present indicative is a coincidence, just like Dutch volvet is not from Latin volvet (it will roll).  --Lambiam 09:09, 19 October 2018 (UTC)
  I’ve made these changes. I have used {{clipping|audio-|lang=en}}, which is not quite proper since there is, arguably, a change in part of speech, and no phonological change (otherwise it would be an apocope), but I couldn’t find a better fit.  --Lambiam 07:43, 21 October 2018 (UTC)
What about calling it a backformation? DTLHS (talk) 19:59, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
I don’t know. To be a true backformation, the backformator ought to have supposed the prefix audio- to have been derived from an earlier stand-alone audio, which is possible but unsubstantiated. My (equally unsubstantiated) theory is that what we have here arose as a generic clipping of a bunch of words prefixed with audio-, such as audiosignal and audiocircuit, satisfying a need for a better noun for the collection of things related to recording and reproducing sound, or transmitting sound signals, than audiostuff.  --Lambiam 07:14, 26 October 2018 (UTC)


The page states:

From Old French oisel, from Late Latin aucellus, contraction of Vulgar Latin *avicellus, diminutive of Latin avis

But the diminutive of Latin avis is avicula; and avicella is the diminutive of avicula, not of avis. Just like bucca -> buccula -> buccella. Second, the gender change needs explanation (why avicellus and not avicella), because avis (and avicula) is feminine, and diminutives in Latin regularly inherit the original gender (like latus -> latusculum, caput -> capitulum, rex -> regulus, manus -> manicula, cor -> corculum, pars -> particula, moles -> molecula, navis -> navicula etc.), despite really very few exceptions (masc. canis -> fem. canicula, fem. rana -> masc. ranunculus).

Regular when? Although we treat Vulgar Latin as part of Latin, it was the beginning of a stage of massive transition and transformation, where all the rules were starting to break down and new ones were developing. It wouldn't be surprising for a gender change to sneak in here and there, especially when the gender isn't obvious from the ending. If you look at the translations for bird, there are lots of words like Catalan ocell, Friulian uciel, Italian uccello, Neapolitan auciello, Occitan aucèl, which are all masculine and which point to a common origin from Late Latin aucellus/Vulgar Latin *avicellus. There are also descendants of Latin passer and feminine descendants of Latin avis- but nothing from Latin avicella. French oiselle exists, but it's a rare poetic variant of oiseau. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:27, 21 October 2018 (UTC)
If you suggest that avis has changed the gender (following whatever VL new and developing rule), then the statement above is wrong anyways. It should say something more like this: from LL aucellus, contraction of VL *avicellus, diminutive of VL *aviculus, diminutive of VL *avis, a masculine variant of L avis. Just because, as I wrote already, avicellus in itself cannot be a diminutive of avis, for two reasons: a) wrong gender, b) wrong morphology (correct L. dim. of avis is fem. and it is avicula).
PS. and for "regular when?" the answer is very simple: regular for whatever we call "Latin" proper. Not VL or LL.
Could a VL feminine *avis have an irregularly masculine diminutive *avicellus?  --Lambiam 07:06, 28 October 2018 (UTC)
Perhaps. All it would take would be someone mistakenly borrowing the ending from a similar word such as panicellus without being aware that they were supposed to go through a -cula /-culus intermediary and overlooking the mismatch of genders. With the empire expanding, there had to be lots of non-native speakers who didn't quite have the language mastered and simply guessed to fill in a gap here and there. Chuck Entz (talk) 08:08, 28 October 2018 (UTC)

Esperanto 'genro'Edit

Is the original sense of this word from French genre? This would have been a particularly bad way of borrowing it, orthographically instead of phonologically, but there are a number of similar cases attested (e.g. furzi instead of "furci"). Is there a more likely candidate? You could generously call it a clipping of Latin generis, but I don't know. פֿינצטערניש (talk) 16:00, 24 October 2018 (UTC)


This Spanish entry (and the RAE) state that the al- is from the Arabic article, but Latin amylum says that it's a case of alpha privative. Can either development be sourced? Ultimateria (talk) 20:14, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

It is attested in Cato Agric. 87 – as amulum –, how can it be from Arabic? Fay Freak (talk) 20:26, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
A possible explanation and reconciliation is that almidón < al + (a)midón, where the first component is the Arabic article, and the second from Vulgar Latin amidum < amylum < ἄμυλον, with aphaeresis of the initial a, making it a sadly deprived alpha privative.  --Lambiam 21:26, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
For what it’s worth, the Catalan word for starch is midó.  --Lambiam 21:46, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

track, trac, traqueEdit

We link Old French/Middle French trac with Old Norse traðk in the entries for track and traque. But we say that it is of unknown origin in trac's entry. Some sources that I have seen merely suggest that track has Germanic origins, one directly links it instead with Dutch trek (rather than Old Norse traðk) [suggesting that both the French and Dutch words are of Old Frankish origin, I guess], and others limit the listed etymology to just going back to Old French/Middle French.

If we are unable to clear this discrepancy up, can we at least determine how we want our entries to present the etymology, for consistency's sake? Tharthan (talk) 23:24, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

Our entry for French traquer also lets Old French trac come from Middle Dutch treck. This was proposed by Diez; le Trésor de la langue française informatisé prefers an onomatopoeic origin (the sound made by marching people, as also stated by Rabelais), considering a Dutch origin “less probable” in view of the geographic area and chronology of the earliest attestations.  --Lambiam 11:09, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
Different dictionaries cite different origins for Old French trac, usually either Old Norse traðk (track, path, spot) or from a source related to Middle Dutch tracken, trecken (to pull). In the majority of cases, however, it is cited as possibly to probably of Germanic origin, specifically which Germanic origin remains unclear. Leasnam (talk) 21:54, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

toast (English noun)Edit

We currently have a single etymology for toast which seems very nice. However we have six senses, and my guess is that the current etymology only applies to two or three of the senses directly. The other senses are likely closely related to the first sense, but indirectly. Here are the senses and my guesses as the etymological breakdown:

  1. Toasted bread (from current etymology)
  2. Salutation/cheers (from toasted bread in drinks?)
  3. Esteemed individual (from the above?)
  4. One who is to be destroyed/finished (alluding to being burnt to a crisp?)
  5. Jamaican poem/rap (?)
  6. Pop-up notification (from bread emerging from a pop-up toaster?)

Anyone want to take a shot at reorganizing the entry? - TheDaveRoss 13:18, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

The first three are related, according to the entry “toast” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2018. Sense #1 is from the verb, meaning to ”roast”. Chronologically next is sense #3, allegedly metaphorically related to a custom of dunking spiced toast in a drink. That sense then got transferred to #2, the act of cheering the esteemed person.
I’ve always assumed that the origin of sense #4 (not only people, but also things) to be from the slang among techies of an electronic circuit said to be toast after too high a voltage has been applied. (See also fry, sense #5.) Also, I think the entry for that idiom should actually be the verb be toast. I am not familiar with the last two senses, but this Google search shows that the explanation for the pop-up notification is generally assumed to be the likeness to a slice of toast popping up from a toaster.  --Lambiam 15:44, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
I've gone ahead and at least split the noun from the verb. This should help facilitate breaking it out further. Leasnam (talk) 23:12, 26 October 2018 (UTC)


I can't determine what Nahuatl word this is supposed to be a distortion of. --Lvovmauro (talk) 23:26, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

Century Dictionary has it. DTLHS (talk) 23:47, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
That book isn't visible to me (even though it should be public domain, Google is weird like that). --Lvovmauro (talk) 00:45, 27 October 2018 (UTC)
@Lvovmauro: It says it's from quamochitl, from quauitl (normalised cuahuitl) + mochitl. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 00:50, 27 October 2018 (UTC)

kahle ("shackle")Edit

How does derivation from "kahlata" ("to wade") make semantic sense? SURJECTION ·talk·contr·log· 14:30, 27 October 2018 (UTC)

I see a semantic connection between progressing with difficulty (sense #2 of kahlata) and wearing shackles, especially when applied to one’s ankles.  --Lambiam 19:22, 27 October 2018 (UTC)
Sounds like someone has been reading etymological databases without care: it is not kahle in the meaning 'chains, shackles', but in the dialectal meaning 'open end of a dragnet, with ropes attached' for which this derivational etymology has been proposed. Some sources further take these to be a single polysemic lexeme, but others do not. --Tropylium (talk) 16:23, 29 October 2018 (UTC)
Now fixed, though I have some doubt on if sense 2 can be really reliably attested (this might be a problem with many other etymologies eventually). --Tropylium (talk) 17:24, 10 November 2018 (UTC)

Pops (father, dad)Edit

I am curious about the morphology of pops (father, dad) --Backinstadiums (talk) 22:54, 30 October 2018 (UTC)

Perhaps the word comes from Dutch paps (/pɑps/), which is, morphologically, pap (shortening of pappa / papa) + -s. Or else there was a completely parallel development from US English poppa.  --Lambiam 07:03, 31 October 2018 (UTC)
It's just pop with what our entry calls a hypocoristic suffix (-s#Etymology 5), which gives an informal, affectionately playful tone when used in direct address (though using such terms with someone you're not close to can be very rude). Other examples include moms, gramps, toots, Babs and homes. Chuck Entz (talk) 07:47, 31 October 2018 (UTC)
It also has an allomorph -sie (-zie?), unless it is -s + -ie, so in these lines:
2018, HL8 and SimpzBeatz (music), “Rolling Round”, performed by Sparko of OMH:
Can’t miss no dots
Every shot let caused I’m hittin
Used to bag it up in the toilet
My mumsie thought I was shittin
Ever seen a junky fittin?
Ever stepped in a room full of needles?
No I ain’t doin no nittin
I think it is somewhat productive in MLE, used for forming nicknames. One even prints t-shirts with the word ”mumsie” if you search for it. Fay Freak (talk) 10:35, 31 October 2018 (UTC)
Compare also cutesie/cutesy, tootsie, toesies. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 14:41, 31 October 2018 (UTC)
Now it’s curious that editors have added words with -sies as either plural-only or uncountable – it looks like just the plural-form of -sie. I don’t know however reference works about English suffixes of obscure or childish kind, and searching more such words, be they with -sie or -sies, is hard for multiple reasons. The spelling though if one comes to track those words down is probably with ⟨s⟩ and not ⟨z⟩ since the English noun plural suffix is spelled alike. Fay Freak (talk) 16:01, 31 October 2018 (UTC)
I think in the case of "toesies", I think it's because it's formed from "toes" rather than "toe", and thus, the diminutive/childish form is also plural. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 17:27, 31 October 2018 (UTC)

November 2018


Does the "mine supervisor" sense have a different etymology than the German-derived/calqued "superhuman" sense? - -sche (discuss) 17:24, 1 November 2018 (UTC)

OED seems to group them together as one term [[4]], as does MW; however Century only has the "foreman in a colliery" sense, and doesn't even mention the German word or meaning, so they must be unrelated. Leasnam (talk) 23:27, 3 November 2018 (UTC)
I broke them out. It's obvious that the German is a much later calque. Leasnam (talk) 23:31, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

虫垂 and vermixEdit

The etymology section for Japanese 虫垂 (chuusui, vermiform appendix) presents as a possible explanation that this is, perhaps, a calque of Latin vermix. A problem with this explanation is that vermix is not a Latin word. Translated literally, 虫垂 would mean “worm hang”. Now it is a well-known fact that Japanese medical knowledge expanded greatly, starting in the 18th century, through the diligent study of Rangaku, which gave access to Western science, including medicine. Excerpts of Dutch medical compendia were translated into Japanese. The vernacular Dutch term for the learned Latin term vermiform appendix is a very literal calque, wormvormig aanhangsel. It is easy to see why Japanese translators may have opted to calque-translate this more in style as if it were “worm hang”. The use of to form a compound is not unique; for example, 肉垂 (nikusui), literally meaning ”flesh hang”, is used for an animal’s double chin (as seen e.g. in rabbits) or wattle (as in birds).  --Lambiam 19:15, 1 November 2018 (UTC)

  • I'm not sure where that etym was sourced from, but the JA materials I have to hand suggest it's a calque from medical Latin appendix vermiformis. Note that can mean “to hang”, and also “to dangle, to hang off of something else”. It can be used on its own to refer to an appendix, particularly in medical contexts. There are also longer-form synonyms for Japanese 虫垂 (chūsui) that are closer calques and that appear to pre-date the short term: 虫様垂 (chūyō sui, literally worm-shaped dangling → vermiform appendix), 虫様突起 (chūyō tokki, literally worm-shaped sticking-out → vermiform process). Unfortunately, the JA sources I've consulted describe what this is, but say almost nothing as to the historical provenance of these terms. The Shinmeikai 5 does state that 虫垂 is a newer synonym for older 虫様突起 (chūyō tokki). The best I've found so far about the etymon is this entry in the Sekai Dai Hyakka Jiten (“World Big Encyclopedia”), which explicitly calls out the Latin term in a notation similar to etymologies in other dictionaries.
HTH, ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 22:52, 1 November 2018 (UTC)
@Fumiko Take. —Suzukaze-c 23:06, 1 November 2018 (UTC)
  • @Lambiam, I've expanded the etymology. I suspect that rangaku was probably where this term first entered Japanese, but I cannot find a source that definitively states as much, nor any historical sources that use the term. That said, I haven't done much digging yet in historical texts. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 18:32, 5 November 2018 (UTC)

German MetzgerEdit

Duden's etymology describes this as:

mittelhochdeutsch metzjer, metzjære, wahrscheinlich zu mittellateinisch matiarius = jemand, der mit Därmen handelt, zu lateinisch mattea < griechisch mattýa = feine Fleischspeise

I'm curious if this might (also?) be related somehow to Hungarian metsz (to cut), which appears to have wholly Hungarian / Uralic roots (obsolete verb met + frequentative verb-forming suffix -sz, though our -sz entry is currently missing the frequentative suffix sense; see also the verbs alszik, tesz), with no relation to the Latin or Greek. The German term appears to be more southern, and Austria is right next door to Hungary, so it's at least geographically plausible. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 17:34, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

I'm certain that there is no connection and that the resemblance to the Hungarian verb is purely accidental. (Also, what's up with the -g- < -j- then?) I don't see how both etymologies (and the mat(t)iārius etymology is pretty compelling; see also de:Metzger and Pfeifer apud DWDS) could be true at the same time. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 03:52, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
The -j--g- shift required for Middle High German metzjer to become modern Metzger is rather puzzling to me, but maybe that's a regular shift in German?
There is a Hungarian noun-forming suffix -g, and I find evidence of a rare form metszeg (google:"metszeg"), which prompted my initial query from the hypothesis that maybe HU metszeg → *metszg + DE agentive suffix -erMetzger, either as a borrowing or as an influence. But perhaps not. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 00:29, 15 November 2018 (UTC)


Users knowledgeable of Old English etymologies and with more time than me may want to look into the question on that talk page. - -sche (discuss) 19:23, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Done. Leasnam (talk) 04:04, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

sumu, somonEdit

Do we know what language somon is from, and whether sumu (which we're currently missing, there and at sum, as a word for a Sum (country subdivision)) is from Mongolian or Chinese? (Is the word when in reference to Mongolia derived from Mongolian, while in reference to China it's from Chinese?) - -sche (discuss) 22:01, 2 November 2018 (UTC)

Our entry 蘇木#Etymology 2 states that it is borrowed from Mongolian.  --Lambiam 22:21, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
There's also the question of whether sumu is from the older Mongolian, or from Mandarin (in turn from Mongolian). @Crom daba should be able to sort this all out. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 23:00, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
See сум. As a side note, I think we should merge Classical Mongolian and Mongolian, the distinction is more trouble than worth. Crom daba (talk) 12:00, 3 November 2018 (UTC)


I see a lot of sources not just not backing our etymology up, but indeed insisting that stay (the common verb) derives ultimately from Latin stare, which our etymology dismisses. I looked into the citation, but I must be missing something because I don't see how The Century Dictionary's entry disproves or offers grounds for dismissal of the stare explanation.

Forgive me if I truly am missing something blatantly obvious or something like that, but I don't see why we ought to assume that the common verb stay is from an Old French verbal derivative of a noun derived from Middle Dutch staeye ("a prop, stay"), from a contracted form of Middle Dutch staede, ultimately from Proto Germanic *stadiz (a standing, place). Tharthan (talk) 06:30, 5 November 2018 (UTC)

The question is, does English stay come from the Old French verb estayer or from the Old French ester (simple present third person singular estait)? As a general rule, English verbs derived from Old French verbs ending in -er drop the infinitive ending -er, first replacing it by -en, which then is dropped in the transition from Middle English to English. For example, Old French contester → English contest. So in the first case we expect Old French estayer → Middle English estayen → English estay, in the second case Old French ester → Middle English esten → English est. The aphaeresis estay(en)stay(en) is almost standard, as in Old French especial → Middle English special. A development leading from Old French ester to English stay, on the other hand, is not easily explained.
It is generally accepted that estayer comes from an Old French noun *estai (French étai). Now the question becomes the etymology of *estai. Here, we find a serious divergence. Our stay etymology derives it from Middle Dutch staeye. The French Wikipedia derives it from Old Low Franconian *staka (cognate with stake), as does “étai” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).  --Lambiam 08:17, 5 November 2018 (UTC)
When an English word has an Old French pedigree, you’d generally expect that it migrated to the British isles with the Norman Conquest in the 11th century. If estai was already then part of the Old French lexicon, it cannot have been borrowed from Middle Dutch, since the latter term denotes West Germanic dialects that were spoken and written between 1150 and 1500.  --Lambiam 21:09, 5 November 2018 (UTC)
Yes, but didn't Old Norman or Anglo-Norman end up also creating a bit of a passageway for other Old French terms to enter into English at a somewhat later date? Furthermore, even if it isn't from Middle Dutch, could it not still be derived from the other Germanic source suggested by the French source that you mentioned? Tharthan (talk) 22:13, 5 November 2018 (UTC)
While there remained contact for a considerable time between Anglo-Normans and continental Normans, the number of words introduced thereby in Anglo-Norman French from the second half of the 12th century onward must be rather small compared to the lexicon imported in the wave of the initial 1066 conquest. That makes the Middle Dutch hypothesis not entirely impossible but considerably less likely. An additional problem is that the meaning of étai is “prop” while the Middle Dutch word just meant “place”, although it is conceivable that the meaning in French shifted only later. I have no opinion on the Old Low Franconian hypothesis. The Trésor presents no evidence for the claim.  --Lambiam 07:18, 6 November 2018 (UTC)
The earliest occurrences of Middle English staien are from the early 15c (1423) in the sense of "to support, hold something up", and it appears that this word came into English much later after the Norman Conquest. Also, to my understanding, most English words of French origin were borrowed 14-15 century, and not immediately after the Conquest. Leasnam (talk) 23:03, 6 November 2018 (UTC)
But were they borrowed from Anglo-Norman French or from continental Middle French? In other words, when did estai cross the Channel?  --Lambiam 07:43, 7 November 2018 (UTC)
They were borrowed from both. The notion that English was immediately flooded with Norman French words in the years following the Norman Conquest is simply just not true. Early Middle English writings show meagre borrowings contrasted with Late Middle English (Chaucer), which is rife with French words, both from Central French and Northern varieties. In Early Middle English, the English simply did not "take" to the French. It wasn't until after the French speaking monarchs in England abandoned French to speak ENGLISH that we see a version of English, their "English", peppered to death with French insertions. As far as estai is concerned, as it says above, it's attested first in 1423, which makes it rather Late Middle English. Leasnam (talk) 20:42, 7 November 2018 (UTC)
The conquerers brought with them, in the 11th century, an extended lexicon from Old Norman French and other Old French dialects. Their language developed into what is called Anglo-Norman French. This was the King’s French. Regardless of when estaien was borrowed by Middle English, surely it found its way via the intermediary of Anglo-Norman French, so at some earlier point in time it must have become part of the Anglo-Norman French lexicon. When did this happen? In the course of its development, the Anglo-Norman French lexicon also incorporated many new words from continental French. However, the number of such new words was nevertheless much less than the size of the “old” lexicon. Was estai already part of the lexicon imported wholesale across the Channel in the 11th century, or was it one of the later imports? The latter form a minority, so without further specific information on any particular word, the former is more likely. If Middle English estaien is first attested in 1423, does that tell us something about the earliest use of estaie in French? Le Trésor gives 1304 as the first attestation. We should compare that to early attestations of Middle Dutch staeye in a sense of “support”, something on which I have no information.  --Lambiam 09:24, 8 November 2018 (UTC)

Proto-Germanic “jaw”Edit

*kaflaz and *kefalaz overlap in their descendants. Now I am not sure what’s the truth about what was used in Proto-Germanic. Am I right to assume that *kefalaz as created by @Leasnam, but later than the other, is the better reconstruction? I wouldn’t know if there were variants in Proto-Germanic. Pfeifer speaks of “r-, l- oder t-Suffix” and there are more descendants with -r and -t. I find neither form anyway elsewhere, but some thing or the other needs to be done, onto which I focus attention herewith. Fay Freak (talk) 18:48, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

The former variant seems to have been created on the basis of Old English (ċeafl < *kæfl < *kafl-), while Dutch/French/German clearly point to *ke- (and Norse to *kē-!). It looks frankly unclear if the words can be derived from a single proto-form. --Tropylium (talk) 17:22, 10 November 2018 (UTC)


The etymology which User:Hikui87 added, can anyone verify that? --Naggy Nagumo (talk) 23:50, 7 November 2018 (UTC)

It's not right. I'd fix it, but I'm having trouble with the editor features at the moment. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 02:03, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
@Eirikr, should it be removed? --Naggy Nagumo (talk) 00:46, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
@Naggy Nagumo, done. Replaced with {{rfe}} until I or someone else can get around to adding the correct etym. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 00:30, 15 November 2018 (UTC)

not to worryEdit

Etymology? @Backinstadiums. Per utramque cavernam 23:03, 10 November 2018 (UTC)

I think this was first used in the mid 20th century (as a standalone phrase). DTLHS (talk) 01:45, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
It might be an ellipsis of something, but what? "I tell you not to worry."? "It's better not to worry."? "Not any reason to worry."? DCDuring (talk) 04:07, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
@DCDuring: Could it be a construction running parallel with to be sure and others, about which there has been a discussion a few months ago? Per utramque cavernam 15:03, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. I'd forgotten about Wiktionary:Tea_room/2018/February#to_be_sure. But the expressions discussed there functioned as sentence adverbs. Not to worry has a discourse function (a bit like de nada?) as a response to an apology.
In that discussion there was a large population of adjectives that could follow to be. At the moment I can't think of other verbs that can fill the slot occupied by worry. DCDuring (talk) 06:07, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
"Not to fear": [5], "not to fret", [6]. DTLHS (talk) 06:10, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
According to Partridge’s Dictionary of Catch Phrases the idiom dates from the mid-1930s with a surge in 1957–8. There are many grammatically standard sentences with the collocation; a nice example from 1935 is, “Not to worry is obviously at times impossible to the thoroughly sane and sound.”[7] Or, paraphrasing the Bard’s tragical Prince of Denmark: “To worry or not to worry, that is the question that is worrying me.”  --Lambiam 08:30, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
But is/was there an expression which performs a similar function in discourse? DCDuring (talk) 14:56, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
I can imagine an exchange like “To worry or not to worry, that is the question. — Well, if these are the alternatives, my choice is not to worry.” Admittedly somewhat contrived, compared to “I tell you not to worry”. But the expression is somewhat odd, and almost certainly was felt even more so when it was fresh, so whatever the origin is, it may not have been a quite normal expression either.  --Lambiam 22:45, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Looking at the citations in the entry, the Kingsley Amis citation is indirectly reported speech, not the stand-alone expression. Our usage example is stilted and omits commas that I would expect to bracket the expression. It would be more natural if the usage example was of the use of the expression in dialog.
There is not terribly much usage in Google Books of standalone conversational Not to worry = No worries, but abundant usage of the collocation in indirect reported speech. Is it possible that a sentence like 'He told me not to worry (indirect reported speech) is interpreted as He told me "Not to worry"' (direct reported speech)? DCDuring (talk) 05:43, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
I found this in Jewish Language Review, Volume 5: "It has been supposed that English Not to worry! is of Yiddish origin, but those who have suggested this etymology have never specified the presumed Yiddish etymon. Could it be ni(sh)t gedayget!?" DTLHS (talk) 06:31, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
As well as "Meshuggenary: celebrating the world of Yiddish" (2002, 21): "And another translates a Yiddish expression into English, as Be well (Yiddish, Zay gezunt), not to worry (Yiddish, nit gedayget), [] "
@Metaknowledge, Wikitiki89? Per utramque cavernam 09:04, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
I don't know. It may be worth noting that "ni(sh)t gedayget" literally translates to "not worried" rather than "not to worry". --WikiTiki89 16:12, 12 November 2018 (UTC)


Is the etymology correct? Not from con- + assimilation?--Espoo (talk) 15:27, 11 November 2018 (UTC)

One might quibble about the "with ‘m’ doubled to clarify pronunciation" part, but, but the etymology has to be correct- the second part is definitely mingle, not assimilate. I suppose it could also be a calque, but assimilate and mingle aren't that great a match, semantically. It looks to me like addition of the co- prefix to an English word with the "m" added by analogy with the behavior of the same prefix in Latin borrowings. Chuck Entz (talk) 16:29, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
I think that's what Espoo meant (con- + mingle with assimilation). Per utramque cavernam 16:47, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Now that you point it out, probably. My last sentence is still relevant- not assimilation, but analogy with assimilated Latin terms. Chuck Entz (talk) 23:43, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
It looks like the spelling comingle is slightly older than commingle. It is hard to tell now why some people, three centuries ago, chose a second, different spelling, but it is possible they only knew the word from hearing it used and just guessed a spelling for it. If the words were pronounced then as they are now, commingle is the more phonetic spelling. At the same time, for people familiar with words like command, commemorate, commit and commotion, a double mm may by analogy have seemed the correct spelling. I find it plausible that both explanations have played a role.  --Lambiam 22:26, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
My guess is that the extra "m" was added to make it match other words where the assimilation happened in Latin before they made their way into English. It wouldn't surprise me if it was at least partly motivated by the old belief that Latin was the model to which all other languages should conform. Chuck Entz (talk) 23:43, 11 November 2018 (UTC)


It looks as if I found another one.

Many other sources put forth this as the etymology for the word:

From Middle English mincen, from Old French mincier/mincer ("to cut into tiny pieces"), from Vulgar Latin *minutiare ("to make tiny") [from minutiæ ("tiny pieces"), from minutia ("smallness")] from Latin minutus ("small").


Although some dictionaries list an Old English etymology as a possibility, it is still usually noted to be less likely than the Latin etymology. And as plausible as I grant you that our etymology is, is there any real reason besides the alternative Middle English spelling minsen of Middle English mincen and the obsolete alternative Modern English spelling minse of mince why we assume that mince comes in part from Old English minsian ("to make less, make smaller, diminish")? Again, it is not that it seems implausible (not at all, in fact, it would seem implausible for Old English minsian to exist at the same time [if it was indeed still part of the common parlance at the time] as Old French mincier/mincer and not influence the Middle English word), but before we declare a word to be the result of a conflation of two ancestral words from two different languages, I think that we ought to give it some more thought. If the partial penultimate etymon (of sorts) is indeed Proto-Germanic *minniz (less), I suppose that in the grand scheme of things that it doesn't matter because both Latin minutus and Proto-Germanic *minniz come from the same Proto-Indo-European root. Still, it would be good if we could back up our etymology. If mince didn't partially come from Old English minsian, then the Old English term ought not to be listed in our etymology. Tharthan (talk) 04:12, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

The question is really this, Tharthan: Why do you think it should be removed ? Let us not mince words... Leasnam (talk) 20:39, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
Ha ha. And I was thinking that I might end up making mincemeat out of some of our etymology.
In all seriousness, my concern is a bit of a broader one. I (at least) perceive that we may have a bit of a problem here on the English Wiktionary of suggesting Germanic (or partially Germanic) etymologies for words that are far more likely of other origins. I can name one example right now off of the top of my head.
Our previously given etymology for the common word neat was that it was derived from a Middle English word which was derived from Anglo-Norman neit, which we said was the result of a conflation of Old French net or nette ("clean, clear, pure"), which was from Latin, and another Middle English word, *neit/nait ("in good order, trim, useful, dextrous"), which was derived from Old Norse neytr (“fit for use, in good order”), which was from Proto-Germanic. Until the etymology was looked at and deemed suspicious, that was the etymology that we gave.
I know that there are plenty more examples, but I can't recall them off of the top of my head. I also realise that there are plenty of other sources out there that have slants themselves (I can think of one right now that is too hasty in dismissing Germanic etymologies in favour of 'Unknown' or 'Of Latin origin'), but I think that we ought to be as neutral as possible in this regard. If you want more examples, I can go digging around for some other ones that I have spotted before. Tharthan (talk) 23:41, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
Tharthan, you sound like the etymology police ! A one time error does not a pattern make, you should know that (and such a tiny error too). Are you keeping tabs ? tsk tsk... Deriving mince from minsian and mincier is absolutely sourceable, and reasonable. You've stated that above more or less. The real issue may be whether Old French mincer, mincier comes from Frankish *minsōn or Vulgar Latin *minūtiāre. Let's chat :D Leasnam (talk) 01:56, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Well, I'm pretty sure that I've seen quite a few other examples in the past. If I come across one again, I'll mention it under this topic header.
Regarding Old French mincer/mincier, there is always, of course, the possibility that it comes from a conflation of both. The problem with determining if it comes almost solely from one or the other is that we couldn't really determine that by the resulting word's meaning. For instance, if we assume that it comes from Vulgar Latin *minutiare, then close cognates such as archaic Italian minuzzare ("to crumble, to rip apart into little pieces), and archaic Spanish menuzar ("to crumble, to comb over"), as well as Portuguese esmiuçar ("to chop finely; grind, to 'break it down' [to explain in detail]") make it pretty clear that at least later on in its existence, one of the meanings of the Vulgar Latin verb was "to reduce to tiny pieces", even though it initially would seem to have simply been "to make small" (however, we cannot rule out that "to reduce to tiny pieces" was a later development in the Romance languages rather than in Vulgar Latin). This is something that was obvious already. The problem is that the hypothetical Frankish verb seems like it would have meant "to reduce in size". So from my perspective, the question is about what the original meaning of the Old French verb was, because it could even not much later in its development have developed either meaning reasonably irrespective of which one it started with. If we can't figure that out (and I imagine that that might be difficult, to say the least), then we are at a dead end. Tharthan (talk) 02:58, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
True. I Agree with you there. However, an additional point I'd like to bring up concerns the form of the word, and this makes derivation from *minūtiāre difficult. Seeing that the primary and secondary stresses fall on the 4th and 2nd syllables, respectively, the expected descendant of Latin *minūtiāre should be Old French *menucer, *menucier, and this is precisely the outcome we see in words like menu, menuise, and menuiser (Old French menusier), the last being the true descendant of *minūtiāre. Sharply contrasted are mincer/mincier with complete loss of the Latin stressed -ū- so staunchly preserved in the other forms. This makes taking a serious a look at Frankish *minsōn as a likely candidate worth considering, at least where the form of the Old French word is concerned. And as you say, it's not a huge leap from "cut into small pieces, crumble" to "become smaller, lessen", however you choose to slice it ;) Leasnam (talk) 03:45, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

матур = beautifulEdit

Is it possible to find out the etymology of матур matur, the Bashkir and Tatar word for 'beautiful'? It doesn't show any resemblance to the words for beautiful in any other languages. Johanna-Hypatia (talk) 20:23, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Done, feel free to trim/reword. Crom daba (talk) 21:27, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
See also Baghatur.  --Lambiam 22:17, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
Great, thanks! (Any citations available?) Johanna-Hypatia (talk) 05:24, 13 November 2018 (UTC)


The past participle of Proto-Germanic *aiganą is automatically given as *aihtaz, but it is really *aiganaz, which has been lexicalised and has got its own entry. Given that Wiktionary's inflection table templates are notoriously undocumented, I have no clue if and how I can correct this. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 03:40, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

cancer bush & kankerbosEdit

These two terms are clearly related, but the direction is unclear to me. Also, it would be nice if it is clarified whether cancer/kanker refers to a colour or to use in folk medicine, or to something else. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 09:40, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

According to this webpage (not necessarily reliable), “For many years African people and Xhoi-xhoi people and Xhoi-san people as well as Bantu people used this plant in the fight against cancer, and it was very effective there, and it still is.” Other sites agree. Here is a leaflet (pdf) with the text: “Traditional name: Kankerbos / English Translation: Cancer Bush”, suggesting a transmission Afrikaans → English. Several English-language books discussing Sutherlandia/Lessertia frutescens introduce an alternative name with some text like “kankerbos (cancer bush)”, also suggesting that cancer bush is a calque.  --Lambiam 10:12, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. I see this short magazine article also states the early colonists used it for cancer, so it is clearly linked to the disease. Here's a mention of kankerbos from 1896 (mentioning stomach cancer by the way), predating anything I've seen for cancer bush. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:36, 14 November 2018 (UTC)


Would a Hindi and Urdu speaker kindly check if I indicated the etymology at chur correctly? Thanks. — SGconlaw (talk) 16:33, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

Could be better, but I'll let @AryamanA fix it. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 07:35, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
@Sgconlaw, Metaknowledge: The Urdu transliteration was... strange to say the least, but the etymology looks to be correct. I have not heard or used the word चर (car) but it is in the Dasa Hindi Dictionary marked as "military jargon", so it's probably just out of use now. —AryamanA (मुझसे बात करेंयोगदान) 21:46, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
Ha, ha, thanks. — SGconlaw (talk) 13:14, 18 November 2018 (UTC)

Polish lewoEdit

Any ideas where this came from? It reminds me vaguely of Latin laevus. —Rua (mew) 18:42, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

Compare Russian налево (nalevo), from левый (levyj), which is indeed related to laevus. Per utramque cavernam 18:58, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

Arabic سَرْج (sarj, saddle) vs. Ossetian саргъ (sarǧ, id.)Edit

@Victar, Fay Freak; Arabic seemingly has a solid etymology and Ossetian is traditionally considered an Arabic loan, but Abaev (vol. 3, p. 32) wonders if the word could be Iranic instead and adduces a number of Iranic cognates. However, some Iranic words look like they might be from Ancient Greek σάγμα (ságma) (presuming its etymology is correct and the direction of loaning wasn't the reverse), interestingly a later descendant of the same word, Greek σαμάρι (samári), seems to have reached Chagatai. Crom daba (talk) 20:13, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

He says that “after the word has been found in Sogdian” it has become more appropriate to ask if the Arabic is borrowed into Arabic from Iranian. I don’t think so. The Iranian might as well from Aramaic, the existence of which he … seems to ignore, as I read? Even if the word is borrowed into Aramaic from Iranian, contaminating the s-r-g root, the Arabic would still come more likely from Aramaic. Arabs just conversed more easily with Semitic-speakers and struggled with the totally different Indo-European. Note that other saddle words have come into Arabic from Aramaic, like أُكَّاف (ʾukkāf) or نَمَط (namaṭ), though بَرْذَعَة (barḏaʿa) is a counter-example. But names of occupations are especially likely to be borrowed from Aramaic, سَرَّاج (sarrāj, saddler), إِسْكَاف (ʾiskāf, shoemaker), and many more, see Fraenkel pp. 253 seqq.. Fay Freak (talk) 21:20, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
I'm generally rather distrusting of anything Abaev writes. --Victar (talk) 21:23, 15 November 2018 (UTC)


Why is this said to be onomatopoeic? Does marrow make a sound? DTLHS (talk) 04:37, 17 November 2018 (UTC)

This is from DRAE, but I agree- it makes no sense. There might be some non-obvious connection with onomatopoeia, but it needs to be spelled out and explained for this to be believable. Chuck Entz (talk) 06:59, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
Spanish and Portuguese dictionaries appear to agree that the origin is onomatopoeic. My first guess was the sound one produces when sucking out the marrow from the bone, but one online dictionary presents this explanation: La palabra tuétano es una voz onomatopéyica, tut tut, que se le daba a las flautas, cañas, y tubos. The explanatory power of this statement leaves something to be desired. Were the Spaniards of old wont to blow into the bones after sucking out the marrow? It sure could do with some elaboration.  --Lambiam 07:52, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
Tuétano is from older tútano, which comes from Old Spanish tut, and it is tut that is onomatopoeic. I don't have a dictionary of Old Spanish to look up tut in. Possibly it means toot? —Stephen (Talk) 20:11, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
I guess that is what the explanation above is trying to say. Translated: “The word tuétano is an onomatopoeic term, tut tut, given to flutes, reeds and tubes.” But how did a word meaning something like “pipe” get specialized to meaning, specifically, “marrow pipe” (compare Dutch mergpijp and Swedish märgpipa) and then ”marrow”?  --Lambiam 22:33, 17 November 2018 (UTC)