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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


December 2018


Is this a calque from Chinese? DTLHS (talk) 20:16, 30 November 2018 (UTC)

Since energy transferability is completely different in Chinese, this blend is certainly not a calque. The combination energy transfer is pretty common and found already in 19th-century texts. Likewise for transferability of energy. For energy transferability we have to wait till the 20th century, still preceding the research reported on by Professor Guo and his group by a long time.  --Lambiam 19:22, 1 December 2018 (UTC)

grogram and grosgrainEdit

Are these just doublets borrowed at different times? Some dicts suggest grogram came from gros-grain. Ultimateria (talk) 03:53, 5 December 2018 (UTC)

The dictionaries suggesting this include Wiktionary. For grogram the Online Etymology Dictionaty dates its use from the 1560s. I have no data on the appearance of the form grosgrain in English. Interestingly, French borrowed grogram (or grogran) back as gourgouran.  --Lambiam 05:32, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
Le Trésor gives more specifically “since 1562” for grogram; Oxford Dictionaries gives “mid 19th century” for grosgrain.  --Lambiam 05:45, 5 December 2018 (UTC)

RFV: Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/wandijaną#EtymologyEdit

Is it correct mentioning Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/windaną insinuating it is the origin before the ultimate etym? Or their relationship is simply as cognates? Should we change the tree of *wendʰ- (to turn, wind, braid)? Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 08:14, 5 December 2018 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology (from Mainland Chinese). — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 23:48, 5 December 2018 (UTC)


The etymology section strikes me as a bit lurid. As far as I can tell most sources state that the cakewalk dance was a post-Civil War dance that was popular after the Reconstruction, though one or two texts confusingly date it to the pre-Civil War slave plantations. There does seem to be consensus that it derived from a plantation dance; some sources state this dance was primarily a way to mock slaveowners, [1] another one that it was imposed by slaveowners but subverted by slaves. [2] ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 09:15, 6 December 2018 (UTC)

Obviously, the etymology section is not intended for a capsule encyclopedic article and should not be used for that. Something like “cake +‎ walk” should suffice. Points of view on who designed or organized cakewalks and who made a mockery of whom are best left to the article on Wikipedia. As to the various senses and their definitions, Collins has a countable sense of “a piece of music” for the musical sense, not the current uncountable “style of music”. I’m only familiar with Golliwogg’s Cakewalk, which is a specific piece of music.  --Lambiam 16:20, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
I utterly disagree. Etymologies absolutely can provide historical details. DTLHS (talk) 16:25, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
I'm with DTLHS on this one. Most people don't care about the actual lexical, surface etymology. It's the historical circumstance that led to words being used in a certain way that are interesting. And even from a lexicographical point of view, it's not at all clear how the current meaning came from "cake" + "walk", so further explanation is necessary. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 16:43, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
There is a difference (or, at least, that is what I think) between providing historical details and including an encyclopedic article, although in abridged form. The current elaborate section fails to shed any light on the sense development from a dance requiring skill and often the subject of a contest – and so presenting a challenge – to something supposedly not presenting a challenge.  --Lambiam 21:59, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
@Lambiam Just edited the etymology. How do you feel about the current text and length? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 09:48, 7 December 2018 (UTC)
It is much improved. I have done some further copy editing, such as replacing the ambiguous term amusing by entertaining, and added some sentences on the sense development.  --Lambiam 11:02, 7 December 2018 (UTC)


  • Old English sēman (“to reconcile, bring an agreement”), Old English sōm (“agreement”).

Souldn't the relation between OE sēman and sōm be specified in the etymology of seem? As it is currently, related by a comma, one cannot infer what their relation is at all (By the way, I'm afraid this is a fault in the general writing style of this section in entries) --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:40, 6 December 2018 (UTC)

The relationship is that they have a common ancestor. It is probably better to write “cognate with” than “akin to”. Most of the etymology info in general is pilfered from various sources that are not always crystal clear about the relation between various forms. Since (unlike Wikipedia) we mostly do not cite our sources when it comes to etymology, it is not easy to check if perhaps the sources were clearer than what ended up here.  --Lambiam 16:32, 6 December 2018 (UTC)


Is the given etymology right/sourceable? Alexander Beider's Origins of Yiddish Dialects notes that Western Yiddish knoblikh (Birnbaum has the same word, written knoblix) and dialectal knoploch are "well correlated with various German dialectal phonetic forms related to NHG Knoblauch", and suggests that the form knobl used in Eastern Yiddish and some other dialects "may be due to hypercorrection: this ending was falsely interpreted as the diminutive plural suffix giving rise to a 'singular' knobl. It is unclear whether this change was internal to Jews, or influence by a similar phenomenon that took place in German dialects of Moravia, Austria and Swabia." (E.g. Swabian has a corresponding form Knobl.)
(Presenting a third possibility, Paul Wexler's Two-tiered Relexification in Yiddish stars *knobloch as nonexistent and gives Knobel and Knöbel and "Austrian G knofe 'garlic'" as the Yiddish word's German cognates, but he seems to be mistaken; the Duden relates Knobel to Knöchel, and Knofi is only a diminutive which, like Knof(e)l, ultimately derives from the same source as Knoblauch.)
- -sche (discuss) 21:57, 7 December 2018 (UTC)

To make this even stranger, the entry on German Knoblauch states that the initial kn- arose by dissimilation from kl-, and that the Knob component is cognate with English clove. Knoblauch would then originally literally have meant something like “cloven onion”. Moreover, the same kl-kn- switch is said to have applied to German Knopf. That is incompatible with having Proto-Germanic *knuppô as ancestor, something stated both at קנאָבל(knobl) and Knopf. I find back-formation from (a variant of) Knoblauch more plausible than the presently given etymology.  --Lambiam 00:55, 8 December 2018 (UTC)
Looks like I added this one, but I don't know what my source was, so I'd go with Beider; he's not always right, but he's careful, whereas Wexler is insane. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 02:27, 8 December 2018 (UTC)

aju/eju/ejò/àju (mother)Edit

Italian Walser terms meaning "mother" (not "mom"). Can't find any cognates. Is this just recently-developed nursery language? Or does it descend from some earlier root? Note that möter, muater, and mamma are also attested in these dialects, i.e. aju/eju/ejò/àju aren't the sole terms for "mother". — Julia 02:12, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

Many, many languages around the world have a word like /aja/ for maternal figures, either as an ordinary noun (like “mother”, “grandmother”) or as an endearing term (like “nana”), so yes, it can be considered a lallwort. There appears not to be any Indo-European etymology. The closest I can find is Proto-Germanic *aiþī(n)- ~ *aiþōn- (mother) (cf. Lubotsky 2013), which I don't think is a plausible ancestor for your words, related or not. I would leave their etymologies blank for now; otherwise just call them nursery language / lallworts or say “Unknown.”.  — J​as​p​e​t 01:28, 14 December 2018 (UTC)


Currently swap is divided into Etymology 1 (inherited from Middle English) for the verb, and a request for a separate Etymology 2 for the noun. But according to the OED, both the noun and the verb (as well as a dialectal adverb) come from the same source, Middle English swappe, swappen, with earlier origins "probably echoic" (of striking a blow). Etymonline says the noun came from the verb c. 1620, but OED has citations for the noun in Middle English a. 1400. Are there other sources that suggest separate etymologies? @Rua, DCDuring. Cnilep (talk) 02:47, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

I have nothing to add, except to observe that it is not unusual to have two etymologies for homonym noun-verb pair with ME derivation, because ME or OE may also have had cognate noun-verb pairs. But apparently there is no evidence of such a pair in this case. DCDuring (talk) 04:23, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
I've moved all the Noun senses derived from the verb to Etymology 1, leaving only the obsolete noun sense inherited from Middle English in Etymology 2. Leasnam (talk) 06:08, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Given what Cnilep found, it's not appropriate to have the same etymology for both. I've unmerged them. —Rua (mew) 11:57, 10 December 2018 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology. A Manual for Parthian (Arsacid Pahlavi) [in Persian ], Hassan Rezai Baghbidi, PhD. Qoqnus pub. P:199 [pwsg /pusag~pūsag/ : Flowered crown , diadem ] —This unsigned comment was added by Ariamihr (talkcontribs) at 17:05, 10 December 2018 (UTC).

This is probably in response to my rfv-etymology at Persian بساک(basâk). Can Middle Iranian *pusak give Persian بساک(basâk)? @Calak, Victar, ZxxZxxZ. --Vahag (talk) 17:56, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
@Vahagn Petrosyan:, I don't know much about b/p variation in modern Persian, but the etymology, which I cleaned up, is pretty solid. @Ariamihr, please don't reconstruct generic MIr forms like you did. There is a reason we don't allow for MIr lemmas. --{{victar|talk}} 18:52, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

perish the thoughtEdit

Is the etymology correct? Isn't it simply a subjunctive with a postposed subject, as in far be it? @Leasnam, Equinox, DCDuring Per utramque cavernam 20:54, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

I think it is off. “The thought” is the subject, not the object, just like “the king” in “long live the king”. The whole is a wish, not a command (addressed to whom?).  --Lambiam 21:03, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Oxford Dictionaries online lists the phrase as an example of a set phrase that contains a subjunctive. Here is one more example of a set phrase where the subject follows the verb: be that as it may.  --Lambiam 21:15, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Indeed, thank you. I was looking for more examples of that. Per utramque cavernam 21:30, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
"Let not my sins perish your noble youth." - Beaumont and Fletcher. The Maid's Tragedy (c. 1609) is an example of the obsolete transitive perish. See perish in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911. DCDuring (talk) 21:37, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Whether it is an order or a wish is not determined by the grammar, but by the context, certainly now that it is a set phrase. DCDuring (talk) 21:37, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Indeed. But how can we use the fact that we are dealing with a set phrase to determine its intended parsing, as a wish or as a command? Let us examine what books on English idiom have to say.
Now the issue cannot be settled by an appeal to authority, but no source that I have seen even considers the possibility that we are dealing with an order. While not strictly impossible, it seems somewhat implausible. For that to make sense, the person uttering the command has to be addressing themselves, like in a soliloquy.
The first recorded appearance seems to be in the libretto of Handel’s Joshua, Part II, Scene VI. Caleb is speaking to Othniel, a young warrior betrothed to Caleb’s daughter: “Firm to our Faith, it never ſhall be ſaid, That our Allies, in vain implor’d our Aid.” Othniel responds: “Periſh the Thought ! while Honour hath a Name, Iſrael’s, or Gibeon’s Cauſe is ſtill the ſame.” In theory, Othniel could be issuing a command to Caleb, but that does not accord with their relative status. The last recorded use of obsolete transitive perish is from 1619, while Joshua is from 1747. Of course, the phrase may already have been set idiom when it was penned there; there is no reason to think it was coined by Thomas Morell, the librettist. All considered, I have not seen an argument for preferring the parsing of the verb form as a transitive imperative over an intransitive subjunctive.  --Lambiam 09:39, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
I am curious how you determined that the usages you quote were last and first, respectively.
I don't think the two parsings are the only possibilities. It can be either imperative or subjunctive with either a transitive or intransitive verb. The absence of inflection or other marking makes it impossible to determine. Semantically, there is little distinction to be made in the interpretation. The part that I find implausible is the inverted word order required for the intransitive. I don't find any semantic reason to prefer subjunctive over imperative. A synonymous 20th century idiom often in imperative form is "Put that thought right out of your head." DCDuring (talk) 15:40, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
It is generally impossible to ascertain with absolute certainty whether a given instance of recorded use is the first or last; there is always the possibility of a perfect instance hidden in a forgotten file in the Vatican Library, patiently waiting to be discovered. But I imagine that Mrs. Whitney and Smith, had they known of a later instance of use of obsolete transitive perish, would have recorded that instead of, or supplementary to, the one from The Maid’s Tragedy. I have interpreted the statement that this phrase “appeared” in Handel's Joshua as meaning that this was the first known appearance. Perhaps that was not what was meant; since my argument does not rely on this – I wrote that the phrase may already have been set idiom at the time – it is of no consequence to the conclusions.
I don’t quite see how we can have a parsing in which the verb is an imperative for an intransitive sense. What is the grammatical role of the thought in this parsing? It cannot be a subject, since the English imperative only allows an (optional) second-person pronoun as subject. It cannot be an object, since the verb is intransitive. I also have a problem seeing how we can have a subjunctive with a transitive verb. The subject role can only be taken by the thought, as there are no other constituents around. Substituting may destroy for subjunctive transitive perish, we get “May the thought destroy”. That does not feel right.
Above I have given several examples of VS order for the subjunctive. Some more examples: come what may; suffice it to say; so help me God.
Take a passage like this about the hunt for the Higgs boson: “In all cases, agreement would be a confirmation that the Standard Model worked in a new process, and a disagreement would mean either that the Standard Model was wrong or that there was a mistake in the calculation or (perish the thought) in our measurement.” The sense here, and in most cases, appears to be, ”A truly horrible idea!”, with the subtext that one believes it not to be so, but cannot completely rule out the possibility; hence, the aspect of hope. If we try to interpret it as a command, the question is to whom the command is addressed. Who is being ordered to bring the thought to eternal rest? In many cases, as in the Higgs boson example, the context is not a dialogue; there is no you there.  --Lambiam 21:09, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
It can be imperative or subjunctive. To me, the subjunctive seems a better fit ("[Let] perish, the thought" "Let the thought be done away with"). Either way, this construction has led to a lot of re-analysis and it's certainly interpreted now as either subjunctive (rarely by those who know), and imperative, and transitive (see here [3]). How then is the etymology wrong ? It states that it likely began as a subjunctive and morphed into other things Leasnam (talk) 23:59, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
The etymology does not state that it likely began as a subjunctive. It conjectures that the (obsolete) transitive sense of perish arose from an incorrect analysis of its role in set phrases in which the word was the subjunctive of the usual intransitive sense. It also states that the phrase is from the transitive sense – all without evidence. Curiously enough, if the example set phrase of the conjectural misunderstanding is taken as not a mere possibility but as something actually likely, we are presented with the following development:
perish (subjunctive intransitive) the thought (subject) by misunderstanding perish (imperative transitive) the thought (object) modern reanalysis perish (subjunctive intransitive) the thought (subject).
Really?  --Lambiam 08:59, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
No. The imperative is not intermediate (it does not lead to the Transitive). It likely goes as follows: (Subjunctive) to (Transitive and Imperative), with Imperative being the imperative of the Transitive. Leasnam (talk) 04:17, 16 December 2018 (UTC)


I'm wondering if the Hawaiian word hikina is a combination of the verb hiki (to arrive) and the suffix -na. Any thoughts on this? --Lo Ximiendo (talk) 17:04, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

@Lo Ximiendo: Your wondering is correct, from what I've been able to find. :) I've updated the entry. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 19:11, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
@Eirikr Thanks, Eiríkr Útlendi; that wehewehe website looks pretty interesting. --Lo Ximiendo (talk) 02:15, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
@Lo Ximiendo: I've found it quite helpful for exploring Hawaiian terms. I hope you also find it useful.
Incidentally, do you know much about {{haw-IPA}}? I'm curious if it's ever used outside of ===Pronunciation=== sections. If not, may as well include the bullet point in the template's output, no? Much like what {{ja-pron}} already outputs.
Also, do you have any idea why it's outputting [t] as equivalent to /k/? As far as I've studied, that only applies to certain terms in Kaua'i dialect.
Cheers, ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 08:03, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
@Eirikr, Lo Ximiendo: I'm a little concerned about whether {{haw-IPA}} is ready for primetime, to be honest. I think we should avoid using it until someone can do a careful check of its output against a scholarly reference for Hawaiian phonology, and we might be better off not generating a narrow transcription at all, given how fraught it is. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 03:02, 14 December 2018 (UTC)


A user on the talk page quite reasonably asks for evidence that this is Celtic and not just a dialectal variant of mom~mum. - -sche (discuss) 18:13, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

If there is evidence for Proto-Brythonic *mamm, the answer should be affirmative, at least for Welsh, but it would strengthen the case for Irish too. So where did this proclaimed etymology come from? @Anglom?  --Lambiam 19:17, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
Good point: if it's used in places where the local non-English language also uses mam, we could perhaps still say "Possibly reinforced by...", even if it's also possibly just a natural development from baby-talk, as Chuck points out it might be. - -sche (discuss) 06:39, 14 December 2018 (UTC)
I think you're slightly misinterpreting what they said. In a way, words like mama are a sort of onomatopoeia: they represent what babies tend to utter in the earlier stages of their speech development. Although these words can be affected by sound changes over time, they also tend to reemerge in their original form from time to time. See, for instance Proto-Indo-European *ph₂tḗr, which changed to Proto-Germanic *fadēr, and eventually ended up as English father- but now coexists with pa and papa.
If I understand User:Luxipa's argument, the point is that these forms in different dialects are what you get when you filter the sounds produced by the babies through the phonotactics of the dialects. In other words, it's not that the word has undergone historic sound change as the dialects have developed from older stages of the language, it's that the language-independent sounds of baby talk have been repeated by people with different accents. Chuck Entz (talk) 04:51, 14 December 2018 (UTC)
Yes, I think that's what I mean. Babies all around the world seem to say [mä, mäm, mämä]; even though there may be some variation. Now my point is that when you try approach this baby utterance in the three dialects (North America, southern England, northern England), "mom" vs. "mum" vs. "mam" is exactly what you would get. In North America, short "o" is open, unrounded, and even often centralised, whereas short "u" is rather closed. In northern England "o" is rounded and too closed, but short "u" fits well. Southern English also has a rounded "o" while "u" is [ʊ], so they chose "mam". I don't have any further insights into the question, it's just that this pattern doesn't seem arbitrary. Luxipa (talk) 10:24, 14 December 2018 (UTC)

सूनु (Etymology 2)Edit

The second etymology of Sanskrit सूनु (sūnu) derives it from सूते (√sū, to beget, produce, yield) and lists the definition “one who presses out or extracts the soma-juice”. This √sū is clearly a descendant of PIE *sewH- (to give birth), but I noticed that its descendant meaning of “to extract a juice” in Sanskrit is semantically much closer to *sew- (to pour), which is considered a distinct (though probably related) root from *sewH- mainly because it does not appear to contain a laryngeal. The lengthening in सूनु (sūnú) most likely points to a laryngeal, so it'd be hard to argue a derivation from *sew- rather than *sewH- despite the apparent semantic difference. Luckily, *sewh₂- (to pour out, rain, press out, extract) is mentioned here and covers the meaning of “to squeeze out” far better than what *sewH- is given credit for (namely just “to give birth”), so it appears to be the best candidate for the origin of सूते (√sū), and on the surface it seems identical to the entry listed currently as *sewH-. However, there is still a problem: *sewH- is reconstructed as either *sewh₁- or *sewh₃-, but not *sewh₂-. Therefore, assuming the aforementioned reconstructions are correct, they cannot be merged into one etymology, unless the laryngeals here are two separate extensions (*-h₂ and *-h₃?) of an original *sew-. This is what I now suspect to be the case, albeit hesitantly.

(Probably also related are Sanskrit सुनोति (sunóti, to press out, extract), Proto-Slavic *sunǫti (to thrust, shove) (note the meaning “to pour out” in several descendants), Sanskrit सुवति (suváti, to set in motion, create (etc.)), and PS *sovati (to shove) (related to the aforementioned *sunǫti via Proto-Balto-Slavic *śūˀ- ~ *śauˀ-) — are these from *sew-, *sewH-, or both? If *sewH-, it would appear to support an original meaning of “to eject” as well as “to produce, give birth” for this root.)

Anyway, I apologize for the somewhat protracted post. I'm still not sure what to do about the original subject of my inquiry, the second etymology of सूनु (sūnu). I've checked several etymological dictionaries, none of which list a gloss like “one who extracts soma” for the word (e.g. here and here (p. 1118, top of column 2)). I am exhausted and any input would be appreciated.  — J​as​p​e​t 01:02, 14 December 2018 (UTC)


Quite an interesting character. I wonder how it came to be. Could it possibly be related to ? Johnny Shiz (talk) 00:46, 16 December 2018 (UTC)

They are in the same phonetic series (according to Zhengzhang (2003), Old Chinese Phonology), with and as the other members. If the information given at is correct, this is ultimately based on the phonetic .  --Lambiam 05:16, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
Judging from the ancient glyphs, it appears to be semantic and phonetic . Johnny Shiz (talk) 14:53, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
That is undoubtedly correct, but perhaps some of the characters that came to be used as a phonetic are historically compound themselves with a phonetic of their own – a phonetic of a phonetic, which then contributed indirectly to the phonetic aspect of the second generation of compound characters.  --Lambiam 17:37, 16 December 2018 (UTC)

口 means 'sounds like', ㄎ is used in texting and wechat to represent 'kekeke' or snickering, and 又 can mean 'again'[4]

read together it comes across something like 'the word for again that sounds like ke' Longpinkytoes (talk) 14:58, 5 January 2019 (UTC)


Apparently, semantic + phonetic ? Johnny Shiz (talk) 01:33, 17 December 2018 (UTC)

Again, see Wiktionary:About Chinese/phonetic series 2.  --Lambiam 07:12, 17 December 2018 (UTC)


Wikipedia says that this landmine is named for the sword claymore. Can someone source it if it's true? Ultimateria (talk) 19:29, 16 December 2018 (UTC)

This result on Google Books seems to confirm it. However, if I judge this book by its cover (and title), this information could have been ripped straight from the Wikipedia page, which had this information before the book was published. —Globins 03:03, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
The word “Trivia” in the book’s title does not do justice to the depth of information, which goes far beyond that found in the Wikipedia article – at least for the text in the section “Where did the idea for the CLAYMORE MINE come from?”. It cannot have been ripped large-scale from Wikipedia. Nevertheless, it is possible that the specific snippet of etymology, that the mine was named after the Scottish sword, was copied from Wikipedia. While not conclusive, two things make this look less plausible in my eyes. First, Wikipedia spells the Gaelic name as claidheamh-mòr, with a hyphen, where the book has claidheamh mor, spelled as two separate words. If that info had been copied, you’d expect the hyphen to have been copied along. Second, author Rottman offers an explanation why MacLeod chose this name, entirely absent from Wikipedia, namely that both weapons cut a wide swath through the enemy.  --Lambiam 08:17, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
Can we cite Google Books previews? I'm not sure it's enough evidence anyway. Ultimateria (talk) 02:50, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
Rottman's "wide swath" smells like folk etymology, though inventor MacLeod's (now deceased) use of the word claymore seems very plausible. DCDuring (talk) 13:23, 20 December 2018 (UTC)
Following Merriam-Webster's lead, I've added the inconclusive "possibly named for the sword claymore". Ultimateria (talk) 17:47, 20 December 2018 (UTC)

yellowhammer and ammerEdit

Yellowhammer's etymology (yellow +‎ ammer) and the etymology of ammer (from the second part of yellow-ammer, a variant of yellowhammer) are circular. Merriam-Webster gives an entirely different explanation, deriving it from Old English yelambre, which seems better than either one we have. —Globins 23:52, 16 December 2018 (UTC)

You misread it: yelambre is early Modern English (that spelling would be impossible for Old English, since y was like German ü), and the Middle English *yelwambre and *ambre are unattested. It's not significantly different from our current etymology when it comes to the Old English. Chuck Entz (talk) 01:59, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
Oops. I'll add that to the etymology on the page. —Globins 02:09, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
I'm kind of reluctant to change the listed etymology on ammer because of how detailed it is. There is a source, although the link is broken. Can anyone confirm any of the information it gives? —Globins 02:50, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
There is a related term in Old English: clodhamer (probably the "fieldfare"), whose second element is the "hammer" of 'yellowhammer'--the same word as amore (a.k.a. emer, omer), so the addition of the h may be much older, originating in Old English times and surviving unrecorded till Modern times. I'm not too sure about the alleged shout-out to the German term as the reason why ammer is more "favored"...Leasnam (talk) 17:43, 25 December 2018 (UTC)

Cambalala and rambararaEdit

I've been wondering if Zulu cambalala and Kinyarwanda rambarara could be related. They have a similar meaning and the sounds show the proper correspondences other than the click in the Zulu word (but historically clicks were added to much of Zulu vocabulary). I'll probably go check some more dictionaries and try to find more cognates, but this is just something interesting I wanted to bring up. Smashhoof2 (talk) 22:49, 17 December 2018 (UTC)


I just protected this due to an edit warring brewing up here over whether this word is originally Slavic (a source for which is given) or not. I'm not an expert on Albanian etymology by any means, so this probably needs more attention from someone more experienced in that field. — surjection?〉 19:09, 18 December 2018 (UTC)

I'd appease him and have both etymologies. The user doesn't seem to be of a crazy nationalist type, he wrote some etymologies that derive Albanian words from Slavic or Latin. Crom daba (talk) 23:15, 18 December 2018 (UTC)
Based on the IP's comments here, the IP (who is against the Slavic etymology) seems a bit crazy at least (if the comments are translated correctly); comments about how the "PIE hypothesis" is wrong and how Orel was supposedly paid by the Yugoslavs to claim every word came from Slavic etc. — surjection?〉 08:52, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
Yeah, I've misread the history, IP does seem to be crazy. For what it's worth, the Slavic etymology is also supported by Orel. Crom daba (talk) 10:49, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
Looks a lot like Nemzag,who normally geolocates to Belgium- perhaps they're going to school in Germany? Chuck Entz (talk) 14:54, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
If lëndinë means “land” and ultimately comes from a PIE word meaning “land” (whence also English land), it seems somewhat implausible to me that it is a derived term of a word lëndë meaning “matter, substance, timber”. I get confused. What is health grass?? English land is stated to come from Proto-Indo-European *lendʰ-, which is said to mean “land, heath”. But the entry for *lendʰ- gives its meaning as “loins” and does not list land as a descendant. Independent from the question regarding lëndinë, something is wrong there.  --Lambiam 07:25, 19 December 2018 (UTC)


RFV of the Finnish etymology. All languages on this page derive ananas ("pineapple") from the name of the fruit except Finnish, which supposedly takes it from the taxonomic name. This seems unlikely in my opinion (which isn't worth much because I don't know much about Finnish). —Globins 21:38, 18 December 2018 (UTC)

I don't think the etymology should be any different from those of other European languages, albeit I don't know the exact languages the word visited in-between, but it's ultimately from that same Tupi word through either Spanish or Portuguese. — surjection?〉 21:47, 18 December 2018 (UTC)


The etymology is, whenever given, usually seen as from Dutch spook, but the vocalism is somewhat odd; the expected outcome would be *spo(w)ku. Would a borrowing or influence from German Spuk (e.g. via Moravian missionaries) be preferable? (English spook isn't a very likely origin or influence, as it wasn't common in the early 19th century and spoekoe was already used in a Sranan text from the 1840s.) ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 09:57, 19 December 2018 (UTC)

Also, English effectively already ceased to influence the Sranan lexicon in the second half of the 17th century, when the colony moved from British to Dutch hands. Only after WWII do we see a new influx of English terminology. Given that the word has a /uː/ vowel in both English and German, one may assume that they inherited this from a common ancestor, which perhaps also led to a descendant in Dutch with a /uː/ vowel, surviving in some dialect as a variant, next to the /oː/ of standard Dutch, and finding its way from there to Sranan. Of course, this is purely hypothetical, but afaik the influence from the Moravian mission on the lexicon has been almost negligeable.  --Lambiam 22:27, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
Apparently spoek (/spuək/) survives to this day in West Frisian as well as in Low German dialects spoken in the Netherlands.  --Lambiam 22:47, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
The etymology of spook itself is odd. If it indeed comes from a Germanic form with long ō, you'd expect it to be reflected with oe instead. Limburgish has spoeak, which reflects Middle Dutch sharp-long ôo, originating from Germanic au. —Rua (mew) 19:04, 25 December 2018 (UTC)
@Rua EWN says that Middle Dutch possibly borrowed it from Middle Low German, which has spōk and spūk, whereas NEW derives it from Proto-Germanic *spauka. The current etymology was given by an anonymous user. diff ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 14:37, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam A dialectal variant is possible, although spoek and spoeck seem to be very rare from the 16th century on, though it is used by Jan Vos and Jacob Campo Weyerman. Do you know anything on the dialect of Dutch speakers in colonial Suriname? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 14:40, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
@Lingo Bingo Dingo. I have no clear information on the dialect mix of Dutch speakers in early colonial Suriname. After Amsterdam, the strongest influence on the WIC and the Sociëteit van Suriname was from Zeeland, but this may not have been reflected in the composition of the settlers. Also, although most European settlers were of Dutch origin, they were a minority among the plantation owners; there were actually more German and (Portuguese-speaking) Jewish owners. It is generally assumed, in the absence of Portuguese, English or Dutch cognates, that Sranan Tongo bosi was borrowed from German Bussi. So perhaps spuku actually comes straight from German Spuk.  --Lambiam 19:43, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
Okay, I have made a borrowing from German the main etymology. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 08:41, 4 January 2019 (UTC)


The IP users and say (diff1, diff2) Punjabi ਮੈਂ (maẽ) is from Ancient Greek με (me). Seems highly dubious to me; I recall not many examples of pronouns being loaned, and the nasality isn't explained. Appendix:Indo-Aryan Swadesh lists gives the Hindi मैं (ma͠i), whose entry says the Punjabi is cognate. I'm not gonna edit war over this though because I'm not an Indo-Aryan expert. — Eru·tuon 10:57, 19 December 2018 (UTC)

The same character seems to be responsible for supposed Greek etymologies of ਮੂੰਹ (mū̃h), ਅਸੀਂ (asī̃) and اسیں(āsỹ). Given the daftness of the latter pair (how did the shift from 2 sg to 1 pl go?) those contributions are completely unreliable. I'd recommend to revert on sight. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 11:59, 19 December 2018 (UTC)
Also ਕਦੋਂ (kadõ), کدوں(kdṽ), ਕਦ (kad) and ਆਪ (āp) (and the fruitcake also edited ਇਹ (eh)). ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 12:06, 19 December 2018 (UTC)


Alemannic German word meaning "throat". Apparently cognate with German Rache, from Old High German rahho, hrahho. Normally initial "chr" in Alemannic indicates the OHG is "kr". I don't know much about sound change laws but I thought that initial Proto-Germanic /xr/ and /r/ both evolved into the same "r" sound in descendants (except for Icelandic). Is it possible that the initial /xr/ survived in this word? — Julia 23:33, 19 December 2018 (UTC)

The entry Chrache states that it is cognate with Rachen, which apparently stems from Proto-Indo-European *kreg- (to caw, crow). This might explain the Alemannic initial “chr”. If so, it is not cognate with Rache, stemming from Proto-Indo-European *wreg- (to drive).
That said, the entry Rachen also states it is from Middle High German rache, which in turn states it means “revenge”. One of these two must be wrong, but I don’t know which one.  --Lambiam 18:06, 20 December 2018 (UTC)


Is this related to ruleta? What is the connection with roulette if there is one? The RAE has no etymology. DTLHS (talk) 02:19, 20 December 2018 (UTC)

In a Google search for ruletero I find hits in which the word seems to be used as an adjective with a meaning like football (soccer) used as a modifier, as in equipo ruletero = football team. Both this and the noun are doubtlessly related to ruleta, but how? Perhaps it is metaphorical; for football, from how the ball is kicked around like the ball in a roulette, and for the cab driver, from how they cruise randomly around like a roulette ball, in search of clients.  --Lambiam 16:46, 20 December 2018 (UTC)


Is there really a suffix "-inal"? Ultimateria (talk) 02:40, 20 December 2018 (UTC)

The stem of Latin altitudo is altitudin- (as should be obvious from its declination), and English altitudinal is from Latin altitudinalis, from altitudin- +‎ -alis, just like Latin originalis is from origo with stem origin-.  --Lambiam 07:07, 20 December 2018 (UTC)


"Cognate with Proto-Slavic *radъ." Is this plausible? DTLHS (talk) 06:36, 22 December 2018 (UTC)

@DTLHS, I've updated the etymology of the Persian entry. I hope that helps to answer your question. --{{victar|talk}} 08:33, 22 December 2018 (UTC)

Setting Old Anatolian Turkish as an ancestor of AzerbaijaniEdit

Currently, Wiktionary uses a taxonomy according to which the nearest ancestor language of Azerbaijani is Proto-Oghuz. This is incorrect. The nearest ancestor of Azerbaijani is Old Anatolian Turkish, which is shared with Turkish and its intermediate form Ottoman Turkish. It is thought that Old Anatolian Turkish developed into (Old?) Azerbaijani and Ottoman towards the end of the XV-th century. The impracticality of the current taxonomy (besides its incorrectness) is that Azerbaijani etymologies cannot be linked to Old Anatolian Turkish using {{inh}}.


1. Glottologue uses a somewhat different taxonomy, which, however, also reflects the fact that Azerbaijani and Turkish shared a nod between diverging from Proto-Oghuz and evolving into different languages. Consider the following taxonomy (somewhat simplified):

  • Oghuz -> East Oghuz -> Turkmen;
  • Oghuz -> West Oghuz -> Azerbaijani, Gagauz, Rumelian Turkish, Turkish.
Thus, "West Oghuz" corresponds to Old Anatolian Turkish.

2. Citations in scholarly literature:

  1. Turan, Fikret (1998) Syntactic and Semantic Aspects of Postpositions in Old Anatolian Turkish, in Turcica (30), page 297:
    Old Anatolian Turkish shows a rich and curious class of postpositions which are essential for the understanding of overall syntax of pre-Ottoman Anatolian Turkish and its successor dialects such as Ottoman Turkish, modern Turkey Turkish and Azerbaijani Turkish.
  2. Yılmaz, N. Demir-Emine (2002), “Ottoman Turkish”, in The Turks, Part 3, Ankara 2002:, pages 853-867.
    In the Old Anatolian Turkish we are able to observe the development of kanı, kankı, and hangi in the modern Western Oguzca (Turkey Turkish), hansi in Azerbaijan Turkish, angı in Gagauz Turkish; on the other hand, in the Eastern Oguz Turkish (Turkmence) we can trace the development of haysı along with y.
  3. AZERBAIJAN viii. Azeri Turkish in Encyclopedia Iranica
    The early Azeri texts are a part of the Old Ottoman (=Old Anatolian Turkish) literature (the difference between Azeri and Turkish was then extremely small).
  4. Konur, E.(2015), Azerbaycan Türkçesinin Fonetik Özellikleri, İstanbul: Edebiyat ve Sanat Akademisi
    Eski Anadolu Türkçesi döneminde Azerbaycan Türkçesinin ayrı bir yazı dili hâlinde teşekkül etmediği fakat Azeri ağzının kısmî özelliklerinin çeşitli eserlerde yer aldığı müşahede edilmektedir.
    translation: It is observed that during the period of Old Anatolian Turkish, Azerbaijani Turkish did not exist as a separate written language but the partial features of the Azeri dialect were included in various works.
  5. Akar, Ali (2014) Eski Anadolu Türkçesi Ders Notlar,
    Eski Anadolu Türkçesinin dil özelliklerine bakıldığında Hazar ötesinde konuşulan Oğuz-Türkmen ağız özellikleri ile Anadolu’da oluşturulan yeni yapıların bir sentezi çıkar arşımıza. Bu dilin uzantılarına günümüzdeki konuşma dillerinde, ağızlarında rastlarız. Bu dil, Anadolu, Azerbaycan, Suriye ve Irak’ı kapsayan geniş bir alanda yazılmış ve konuşulmuştur.
    translation: When we look at the language features of Old Anatolian Turkish, we find a synthesis of the new structures created in Anatolia with the Oghuz-Turkmen dialectal features, which are spoken on the other side of the Caspian Sea. We come across the continuation of this language in spoken languages and dialects of today. This language has been written and spoken in a wide area covering Anatolia, Azerbaijan, Syria and Iraq.
  6. Гузеев, В.Г. (1979) Староосманский язык [Old Ottoman (=Old Anatolian Turkish) Language], Москва: "Наука"., page 14:
    Язык памятников, созданных в восточной части Анатолии, обнаруживает черты, сближающие его с современным азербайджанским языком
    translation: The language of the texts written in eastern Anatolia demonstrates features bringing it together with the contemporary Azerbaijani language.

Considering this, I propose to set Old Anatolian Turkish as an ancestor language of Azerbaijani. Allahverdi Verdizade (talk) 18:33, 22 December 2018 (UTC)

  Support I don't know much about this, but the literature snippets are convincing. Crom daba (talk) 12:18, 23 December 2018 (UTC)
It’s not my area of expertise, but I too find the citations, from appropriately diverse sources, convincing.  --Lambiam 18:36, 24 December 2018 (UTC)
  Done. (If anyone disagrees, please speak up...) - -sche (discuss) 23:42, 26 December 2018 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology:

From *bʰiH-ti̯o, from *bʰiH-.

the given etymology above is not referenced, the ESSJa says that it is from *biti + *-čь.

ESSJa is correct, *ti̯V cannot produce *č (and why would we even want to project this to PIE?). Crom daba (talk) 15:32, 29 December 2018 (UTC)


Doke says that this noun is derived from the verb nqaba. However, the UCLA Phonetics Archive has a page ( which suggests that the origin of the same word in Xhosa is Nama ǂhâb "cliff". This complicates the origin of this word because it seems unlikely that the verb is derived from the noun (but I wouldn't rule it out). It's also possible the verb and the noun are unrelated. --Smashhoof2 (talk) 20:42, 26 December 2018 (UTC)

Every now and then what seems to be one word with different senses is actually a set of true homonyms with different etymologies. Is it possible that sense 1 (fortress) is from Nama and the other senses from the verb?  --Lambiam 21:00, 26 December 2018 (UTC)


Has it really entered Greek through French? The etymology could sure use some clarifying. --Robbie SWE (talk) 18:01, 28 December 2018 (UTC)

Why do you find that hard to believe? DTLHS (talk) 18:02, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
It happens often. Ancient Greek *νοσταλγία (*nostalgía) is unattested; the term was coined (1678) in Scientific Latin from Greek roots, borrowed in French, then went from French to Modern Greek. Per utramque cavernam 18:12, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
Personally, I don't find it hard to believe at all. I just wanted to grant the anon who deleted it, the benefit of the doubt. Nonetheless, any additional explanation and/or source could help make the etymology perfectly clear. --Robbie SWE (talk) 18:35, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
I guess the English etymology needs improvement. DTLHS (talk) 18:37, 28 December 2018 (UTC)

შიგ აქვსEdit

The expression შიგ აქვს (, or equivalent შიგა აქვს (pronounced šiga akvs) are widely used in Georgian slang to say that someone is insane/crazy/nuts or is acting in an illogical, insane way.

The literal translation of the expression is "he/she/it has it/something inside" or "he/she/it has shig/shiga". Most Georgians, if asked, will say that it refers to having a penis inside a vagina or anus. It is unclear why having a penis inside a vagina or anus might be associated with reduced mental capacity.

However, another version of the expression's origin is that it is derived from the hebrew word שִׁיגַּע‎ (shigá, “drive mad”). Most likely it was introduced by Georgian Jews, many of whom spoke a dialect of Georgian called Qivruli, aka. Judeo-Georgian, which was mutually intelligible with Georgian but included a large amount of Aramaic and Hebrew words - see Not surprisingly, Georgian slang still employs some words with hebrew origin, for example, "goiym" is very common in Georgian informal speech and means someone with an inferior sense of taste and style.

Notably, the word meshugge ( that is commonly used in English is also derived from שִׁיגַּע‎ (shigá).

To the best of my knowledge, this version of the etymology of შიგა აქ which obviously makes more sense than the penis version has not received due attention from the public or the academia, so it would be great if the linguistics enthusiasts here would consider it. —This unsigned comment was added by Shota59 (talkcontribs).

I have removed the part that referred to penis. The arguments are convincing - Georgian slang does have some words from Hebrew (ნაშა (naša), ბაითი (baiti)) but I am not sure. Why would აქვს (akvs, to have) be in the phrase rather than არის (aris, to be) but hey it could have been misinterpreted even in the early days. Dixtosa (talk) 20:05, 30 December 2018 (UTC)

Honestly I think both versions should be there, instead of none, to paint a full picture. However I don't know the rules of this platform, so if printed sources are a strict must, then probably you're right to remove the common version in case there's no written source for it.

An obvious interpretation is that it refers to having something in one's head, the vulgarity developing from the offense meant and a phantom etymology with penises and anuses was devised to explain the inherent vulgarity. Crom daba (talk) 00:12, 31 December 2018 (UTC)
In most places it is more of an insult to tell someone they are empty-headed (compare Italian testa vuota, Dutch leeghoofd, Finnish tyhjäpää and Spanish cabeza hueca). Are Georgians an exception to that rule?  --Lambiam 07:53, 31 December 2018 (UTC)
If I'm reading the usage note correctly, it is used interrogatively 'Do you have it [brains] inside [your head]?', I don't speak Georgian or even know much about it, but this seems like a common pattern for offensive questions. Crom daba (talk) 13:55, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Technically it is a question but in fact it is a rhetorical question (I'm a native speaker of Georgian). A better translation would be: "You have it inside, don't you?" suggesting that one indeed has it inside, or at least has been behaving in a way that would suggest that they have "it" inside. Having it inside would imply being stupid and insane, while not having it would imply being sane. This is precisely why I think the Judeo-Georgian explanation makes more sense because it is hard to understand why having something (a penis as every native speaker would tell you) might be associated with stupidity or insanity. This expression is very unlikely to be about having a brain inside one's head because the intonation and the wording suggest that "it" usually is not inside, and having it inside is an extraordinary condition rather than the usual one.
Yeah, this information makes my theory unlikely. Crom daba (talk) 02:44, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
P. s. sign your posts with four tildes (~) please.

First time I hear it has anything to do with the head.


this source [5] has the word listed in a regular dictionary, not one dedicated exclusively to nautical terms, in the year 1819. this distinction being made since dictionaries of industry-specific jargon could be seen to be more lenient where the jargon could be mistaken for obscene language. this page [6] doesn't give a date for the earliest use, but implies the word wasn't considered obscene prior to around 1700. this could mean that the word simply meant 'cleft' until it became widespread as a nickname for human anatomy (being used as a nickname for other anatomy seems to bolster this idea)

the presence of ropes large enough to be made of smaller ropes, and thus have clefts that needed naming, should date back to 1571–1862 [7] and when da Vinci (1452-1519)[8] draughted a design for a rope making machine [9] in the late 15th century he plausibly desired to automate a practice that was already commonplace, yet arduous, during his lifetime.

if the naming of the part of a rope was inspired by the nickname for human anatomy, then large ropes should first appear after the word became obscene (1700), or the term should disappear from dictionaries prior to the Age of Sail (1571), yet neither of these are the case.

tl;dr: there is a 129 year gap from the beginning of the Age of Sail (and the existence of large ropes), that the 'c' word was not yet being used in a context considered obscene, and a 119 year grace period after the 'c' word became obscene that 'cuntline' still appeared in mainstream dictionaries in print.

all of this to say: if 'cuntline' seems to have been given a grandfather clause when the first syllable became obscene, perhaps there is an obvious, and good reason for this. Longpinkytoes (talk) 16:14, 5 January 2019 (UTC)

January 2019


Is the etymology correct? The semantic shift from "idleness" to "wish, desire" is not obvious to me. Looks like a contracted form of desiderium instead. @Fay Freak Per utramque cavernam 23:54, 1 January 2019 (UTC)

Yes, I am just right now reading about it. Apparently it is both. Also reconstructed *dēsedium. DRAE derives deseo just from “desidium” as like an attested word. Others see the verb first, desear from dēsīderō, but I think from experience that desear is denominal. @Per utramque cavernam Fay Freak (talk) 00:09, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
Lewis & Short has two entries for desidia with different etymologies: one for the senses “idleness, inactivity, sloth” from desideo, and one for the sense “retiring” from desido. Likewise in Gaffiot. No hint of a plural desidia that is alleged to insinuate *desidium there.  --Lambiam 08:08, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
What are these occurences of desidium of the Historia Mediolanensis if not ”desire”? dīscidium? In the other page “desire” fits even more. Should *dēsidium be moved to the mainspace? Fay Freak (talk) 13:29, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
desidii is presumed to stand at Titus Vestricius Spurinna where the manuscript has desidie. Better to read ingrati nebulae desidii caput circumstant trepidum or ingrati nebulae desidiae caput circumstant trepidum, or something third? The latter I do not understand, but the former more: “Fogs stand around the restless head of ingrate sloth.” Fay Freak (talk) 14:06, 2 January 2019 (UTC)


The current etymology is that this is a version of England with svarabhakti. However, a possibility that should probably be considered is that Engerland represents a survival of the medial vowel in Middle English Engelond; forms such as Engelande are attested in Early Modern English (the same explanation could be applied to trisyllabic pronunciations of chimney). Does anyone have any thoughts on this matter? --Hazarasp (talk) 05:17, 2 January 2019 (UTC)

Through what medium might this have survived? International football matches date from the late 19th century, so transmission through football chant cannot have been the medium. We need to bridge several centuries of oral transmission from the latest attested versions having a middle vowel to the trisyllabic practice heard in football chant.  --Lambiam 08:41, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
The standardisation of spelling that Early Modern English underwent means that any varieties that retained it wouldn't necessarily use such a form in writing, especially after c. 1650, except in specialised dialect writing (which really should be checked to see if any such forms come up if anyone's interested in finding out more). --Hazarasp (talk) 06:07, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
Note that the specific spelling "Engerland" probably won't be used before c.1800-1850 as rhoticity was still an option in proto-RP before then. --Hazarasp (talk) 06:19, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
Any association with Engerlish ? Leasnam (talk) 22:40, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
"Engerlish" seems to be first attested in 1880, but this book seems to say that Shakespeare pronounced "Eng(e)lish" as a trisyllable (I'm not sure if that is still believed by Shakespeare scholars, and I have a feeling it isn't). By the way, this is an attestation of "Engelish" from the 1680s. --Hazarasp (talk) 06:19, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
The EDD and Thomas Darlington's 1887 Folk-speech of South Cheshire (v 21), in explaining the use of suck to mean "ploughshare", quotes one Rob. Nixon's Cheshire Prophecy, "Between the sickle and the suck / All Engeland shall have a pluck." This is the only instance of "Enge(r)land" I spotted, cursorily searching Google Books for books with "dialect", "language", or "speech" in the title to try to find books on English dialects. - -sche (discuss) 05:51, 9 January 2019 (UTC)


Something is missing in it's etymology section.
Is it from שלעפּן(shlepn) + English -er, or from something like שלעפּער‎(shleper‎) (cp. Schlepper)? -- 21:07, 6 January 2019 (UTC)

Yiddish שלעפּער(shleper) means “tramp”, as in the Yiddish translation ליידי און דער שלעפער of the film title The Lady and the Tramp. I think the best explanation of sense 1 of English schlepper is from the English verb schlep (which of course is from Yiddish) + the English agent suffix -er, whereas senses 2 and 3 are almost certainly straight from Yiddish.  --Lambiam 10:34, 7 January 2019 (UTC)


Earlier today I created wyla, after finding two quotes in published sources from 1841 (since back-dated to 1826) and 1952. I haven't found the plural attested yet. But in looking for the plural, I found this:

1892, Lancelot Threlkeld, An Australian Language as Spoken by the Awabakal, the People of Awaba, Or Lake Macquarie[10], page 53:
Waiila, m., the black cockatoo; its breeding place is unknown to the blacks.

I also found a other sources of various reliability (a grammar of Wathawurrung; an Australian school newsletter; a botanic garden in NSW) mentioning waiila, wailla, or wyla as Awabakal for "black cockatoo" or "yellow-tailed black cockatoo". Is that sufficient to declare that English wyla is borrowed from Awabakal, or should I look for a published work explicitly making that connection? Cnilep (talk) 04:48, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

To be on the safe side, just say it's from a Pama-Nyungan language and mention the Awabakal word as a possible source, since it could be from a closely related language. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 05:05, 8 January 2019 (UTC)


The name derives from the feminine suffix machia, meaning "battle, fight" (see -machy) + Latin velli, present passive infinitive of vello "to pull or tear down, demolish." seems a boutade.

The currently given etymology seems very implausible to me, using an Ancient Greek suffix -μαχία (-makhía) as a prefix, combining it with a Classical Latin infinitive. The i at the end of Machiavelli is a plural ending, as can be seen from the plural form dei in the full name Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli. The French Wiktionary (under Machiavel) cites Émile Littré, Dictionnaire de la langue française, 1872-1877, which explains the name as a professional name meaning stain remover, presumably related to Italian macchia.  --Lambiam 16:45, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
The etymology was added by a notoriously unreliable editor. This here says it means "bad nail" (from malo and chiavella / chiavo?); so same idea as your options 1) or 3). Per utramque cavernam 23:45, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@Djkcel (Tagging author of the disputed etymology, who may be interested in the discussion.) — Mnemosientje (t · c) 11:55, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam @Mnemosientje Sorry, late to the conversation; but, yes, regarding that 7-year-old etymology: back then I was as guilty falling for Etymology Online's many fanciful entries as Harper was of writing them (but I swear we're not the same person). He's since removed many of those unsourced suggestions, including Machiavelli.
Anyway, it's a tough name to find anything on, but I was able to find a few additional sources supporting the above possible meaning of "bad nails:" (1) The Life and Times of Niccolò Machiavelli, (2) Der Prinz und der Führer: die Machtpolitik Hitlers im Lichte des Machiavellismus, and (3) The story of language. I'll let you guys decide if that's enough to go on. Djkcel (talk) 19:34, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
@Djkcel: I was going to come to your talkpage to apologise for my comment above. I do think your methods have improved since then. Per utramque cavernam 20:25, 16 January 2019 (UTC)

It's unfortunate that we don't have better sources though, all these links are quite poor. Per utramque cavernam 12:58, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

This Italian site states that in 11th and 12th-century documents (in Latin) the surnames “Malclavelli” and “Malclavello” are found, which lends credence to the mal- + chiavello theory.  --Lambiam 14:02, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
The diminutive chiavello from chiavo or chiave + -ello is attestable. Late Latin *clavellus is not impossible, but the Classical Latin diminutive is clavulus.  --Lambiam 14:08, 9 January 2019 (UTC)


Currently "wet + -ware", which, I suppose, is technically accurate, but feels like it is missing all of the possibly interesting bits. There is no sense of wet which indicates it means human brains (which it doesn't as far as I know). - TheDaveRoss 16:21, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Well, one can find parallel formations. In German one calls the “gray matter” also Grütze. Somehow one thinks that a less operative brain is drier. Fay Freak (talk) 16:33, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
As contrasted with hardware (not that "wet" is the opposite of "hard"...), plus software already means something different. DTLHS (talk) 17:40, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
"not that "wet" is the opposite of "hard"...": well... Let's say they're complementary :-) Per utramque cavernam 17:49, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
I’m only familiar with the term from SF, as in Rudy Rucker’s 1988 novel Wetware, who uses it more like in sense #2. It was a surprise to read in the Wikipedia article Wetware (brain) that the term has been around at least since the mid-1950s, especially since the term software is first found in print only in 1958. But I assume that, like for software, the -ware component came from hardware used in the sense of “computing machinery”, a use that dates back to 1947. In the mid-1950s, the term “electronic brain” was a not uncommon popular term for a computer, which probably contributed to the construction of the neologism wetware. The brain is composed of 73% water (H. H. Mitchell et al. (1945), Journal of Biological Chemistry 158 pp. 625–637), so the choice of the first component is somewhat understandable and more flattering than, say, mushware.  --Lambiam 18:58, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Bodies have fluids in them... assassination is wet work. Equinox 19:06, 9 January 2019 (UTC)


The current etymology doesn't mention the Ancient Greek. Can someone who knows the terms add them and an explanation why the city (cities) are named "three cities"? Ultimateria (talk) 17:08, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Wikipedia gives different etymologies for Tripoli in Libya and Tripoli,Lebanon. As to the Libyan capital, the name Tripolis originally referred to a region containing three cities: Oea (now Tripoli), Sabratha and Leptis Magna, the latter two of which are now uninhabited archeological sites. The Greek name Τρίπολις for the Lebanese city is said to be a folk etymology of the earlier Semitic, etymologically unrelated name Derbly. Other sources suggest also a three-city origin, as being set up as a joint venture between the cities of Tyre, Sidon and Aradus. That raises the question, though, why the Phoenicians would have chosen a Greek name for the enterprise. They were Persian vassals, and the Persians saw the Greeks as rivals, so that might have been seen as a provocation. Finally, for the current capital of Arcadia, the name may be a transmogrification of Ὺδροπολιτσά (Hydropolitsá), itself possibly a transfiguration of a South Slavic name meaning something like “Oak Plain”.  --Lambiam 20:36, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
So how do we clean up the entry then, given that Tripoli, Greece's name is unrelated to the names of the other Tripolis? How do we sort out the American Tripolis? I was thinking of seperating each Old World Tripoli into its own etymology section, and the current section be where the American Tripolis stay. mellohi! (僕の乖離) 01:26, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
My preference would be to keep the etymologies somewhat concentrated. The parts that are specific to the English name should (of course) be presented at the entry Tripoli itself, while the parts that are English-language independent can find a place in the etymology section of a new entry: Ancient Greek Τρίπολις (Trípolis). The English proper noun Tripoli goes back, in all cases, to the Italian proper noun Tripoli – either directly, as in the case of the Libyan capital, or indirectly, by modelling the borrowing of the name of another city after that. And Italian Tripoli < Latin Tripolis < Ancient Greek Τρίπολις (Trípolis). The divergence is the origin of the name Τρίπολις: a true compound τρι- (tri-) +‎ πόλις (pólis) or folk etymology (as for the Arcadian capital)? By the way, the relationship to the name Derbly is far from being established with any degree of certainty. The American Tripolis are all named after the (then Tripolitanian, now Libyan) Tripoli named in the Marines’ Hymn: “From the Halls of Montezuma / To the shores of Tripoli”.  --Lambiam 11:15, 12 January 2019 (UTC)

RFV: orbus#Etymology and orbo#LatinEdit

The same IP (6 edits) included as descendants in Spanish orbo and huerbo, and orbar respectively. Not located in DRAE, I checked: G de Diego doesn't mention them, and Coromines attests only orbedad. We can deduce from this latter contribution, that Spanish huérfano comes from Late Latin or straight from Greek. Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 12:12, 11 January 2019 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology. Per De Vaan the word may also be from Latin "mus". —This unsigned comment was added by Greenismean2016 (talkcontribs) at 23:05, 11 January 2019.

Another question: where does the -ex come from? Most of the nouns ending in -ex have a root that ends with a velar or are compounds with a verb that does, such as faciō, dīcō, iaciō, legō or plicō. Here we're saying that mūs or Ancient Greek μῦς (mûs) has acquired a velar from somewhere. There seem to be other examples, which we don't explain, either: dentex (>dēns), pantex (>pānus?), pūmex (>? cf. spūma), rāmex (>rāmus). There are also words of similar and unexplained form (of both Indo-European and unknown origin) such as cīmex, culex (insects); ībex, laurex, sōrex, vervēx (mammals); cārex, īlex, rumex, vītex (plants); cortex, frutex, rādīx (general plant terms), etc. —This unsigned comment was added by Chuck Entz (talkcontribs) at 03:27, 12 January 2019.
Aristotle (Animalia 5:12) uses the term πορφύρα (porphúra) for the snail, a term surviving unchanged in Modern Greek, and the etymon of Latin purpura. To me this raises the question, why should the Romans have adopted, with a strange alteration, the unrelated Greek name for a mussel, a rather different mollusc? Why not use the Greek name, already borrowed for another purpose? When the Latins first entered the Italian Peninsula and ventured there into the sea, they must have encountered these rock snails for the first time. Presumably the pre-Latin (Italic/Ligurian/Sicel) natives had a name for them in a now-lost language. Can it be that the Latins simply borrowed that name from them?  --Lambiam 10:33, 12 January 2019 (UTC)

hazardo (Esperanto and Ido) - in which language did it originate?Edit

From what I can see:

  • The Esperanto word 'hazardo' was added to the Akademia Vortaro in 1919, with the 2-a oficiala aldono.
  • The Ido Kompleta Gramatiko Detaloza has a form of the word, 'hazarde', but it was first published only in 1929.

However, Ido is much older than the Kompleta Gramatiko Detaloza, and existed in 1919, which means that the word could very well come from Ido. But myself I'm not sure where to look to find out where it's first attested.

Of course, this all rests on the assumption that the Esperanto and Ido movements were discrete entities, which isn't entirely true. It could have originated among speakers of both languages, and the line could be very difficult to determine. פֿינצטערניש (talk) 13:15, 12 January 2019 (UTC)

Clarification: I know it originated in Arabic and came to the languages through French, but I'm asking whether it was first borrowed into Ido or Esperanto. פֿינצטערניש (talk) 13:16, 12 January 2019 (UTC)


  • Kurd
  • From Sanskrit कृति (krti) meaning worker or slave, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *kʷer-.

Wrong etymology and baseless. It has nothing to do with that Sanskrit name. It's a Middle Persina term:

  • Regardless of its possible roots in ancient toponymy, the ethnonym Kurd might be derived from a term kwrt- used in Middle Persian as a common noun to refer to "nomads" or "tent-dwellers," which could be applied as an attribute to any Iranian group with such a lifestyle.
  • Source: Karnamak Ardashir Papakan and the Matadakan i Hazar Dastan. G. Asatrian, Prolegomena to the Study of the Kurds, Iran and the Caucasus, Vol.13, pp. 1–58, 2009. Excerpt 1: "Generally, the etymons and primary meanings of tribal names or ethnonyms, as well as place names, are often irrecoverable; Kurd is also an obscurity." "It is clear that kurt in all the contexts has a distinct social sense, 'nomad, tent-dweller.' It could equally be an attribute for any Iranian ethnic group having similar characteristics. To look for a particular ethnic sense here would be a futile exercise." P. 24: "The Pahlavi materials clearly show that kurd in pre-Islamic Iran was a social label, still a long way from becoming an ethnonym or a term denoting a distinct group of people."

Please fix it. You should look for "kurt" in a Middle Persian dictionary and etymology should be something like this:

  • From Persian "کرد", from Middle Persian "kwrt-" )kurt), from... -- 18:15, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
The Persian Wikipedia has an extensive section on the meaning of the name discussing several theories, followed by a section challenging the dominant theory. I am not in a position to evaluate the merits of all this.  --Lambiam 18:46, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
That article in Persian Wikipedia makes zero sense because it was edited by Kurdish ethnonationalists and they added many ridiculous claims from personal blogs and primary sources to it. For example, they even claimed almost all of Shahnameh characters are Kurd or many other similar nonsense! As I said, use a Middle Persian dictionary like David Neil MacKenzie's book or contact some well-known specialist like Gernot Windfuhr. "Kurd" or "Kurt" appeared during Sasanian era and mentioned in Middle Persian (Pahlavi) sources and it just means "nomad". The other theories are just weak stuff that try relate Kurds to Near Eastern peoples like Sumerians. -- 20:45, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
The "slaves" etymology is from {{R:pal:Nyberg|pages=120-121}}. If someone wants to list all the theorized etymologies, they're welcome to. For now though, unknown is fine with me. --{{victar|talk}} 03:45, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
Lowercase kurd, as a Kurdish word, may also need to be looked at (it currently says it's from Sumerian). - -sche (discuss) 23:56, 13 January 2019 (UTC)


This looks like a misspelling of گچ‎. @Irman, do you have a source for that etymology? --{{victar|talk}} 08:35, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

No, it is not a misspelling. it's now an archaic word in persian with different etymology and different meaning however some of none Persian speakers or writers who didn't know persian well merged it with گچ‎. but you can see that it went into turkish language with its right meaning.(Irman (talk) 11:25, 14 January 2019 (UTC))
@Irman: Well I find the etymology you give rather baseless and absolutely no mention of گچ‎ is made. I see the Turkish borrowing, but that doesn't rule out the -r- being non-etymological. --{{victar|talk}} 19:09, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
{{R:fa:Dehkhoda:1931}} says this word is Mazanderani. --{{victar|talk}} 00:42, 15 January 2019 (UTC)


@Irman, is پدواذ‎ a reconstruction? Where is *padwād(ag)? coming from? --{{victar|talk}} 10:29, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

I suggested that etymology by comparision with its alternative forms.(Irman (talk) 11:28, 14 January 2019 (UTC))
@Irman: 1) what are you proposing the origin and meaning of this *padwād(ag) word is, 2) why you would reconstruct a Middle Iranian form with no cognates in the first place, and 3) why are you using {{m|und}}, and not reconstructing a MP form? --{{victar|talk}} 19:09, 14 January 2019 (UTC)


@Irman, where is this etymology coming from? It looks very ad hoc. --{{victar|talk}} 22:06, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

Germanic words for "lion"Edit

Sparked by the extreme size of the descendants section of leō (I have since {{see desc}}'ed some of the entries where it wouldn't look silly) and my wish to collapse the Germanic section into a see desc template to shorten the descendants section some and make it easier to apply {{top3}} without it looking weird, I have been wondering about a possible Proto-Germanic form.

  1. It seems quite possible that the word was loaned in the (late?) Proto-Germanic stage, but I'm not sure if there are forms which would explain all descendants we currently have listed there.
  2. Certainly some of the Germanic forms are just direct borrowings from Latin without Proto-Germanic intermediary, as indicated on the entry already.
  3. Pronk-Tiethoff (2013) supposes a "Germanic *le(w)o-" (p. 135), which is quite far from the *laujan that's currently on the Latin entry and e.g. the "germ. *laujō-, *laujōn?, *lauja-, *laujan?" given by Köbler for the supposed Gothic form *𐌻𐌹𐍅𐌰 (*liwa), which is thought to have existed based on personal names and the Slavic words, which again per Pronk-Tiethoff most likely derive from a Germanic source with i-vocalism.
  4. If *𐌻𐌹𐍅𐌰 (*liwa) is indeed an an-stem, which it does look like, and considering that OHG. lewo is also from an-stem (per Köbler), I would with my limited knowledge reconstruct something like an an-stem *lewô (but which already means "scythe").

Does anyone have any comments/thoughts here? I don't trust my own knowledge of old Germanic languages other than Gothic enough to move ahead with this. Also wondering about where the -w- is from. — Mnemosientje (t · c) 14:46, 16 January 2019 (UTC)


This is claimed to be a calque of either Dutch oproer or German Aufruhr. The problem with that is that roeren does not mean "to roar", nor does rühren. So it's only partially a calque. It's kind of like forlorn hope, I guess. I will note that in both cases, the process of "calquing" the source word into English in a way that left the resulting word the way that it did (having part of its makeup be made up of a word that is totally different from the corresponding part of the makeup of its source word) caused a secondary meaning of the word to arise based upon the "unrelated word part". In the case of uproar, the meaning "loud confused noise, especially when coming from several sources" arose, and in the case of forlorn hope, the (now much more commonly-used meaning) "a dangerous or hopeless venture" arose. Personally, I think that, in forlorn hope’s case, this was a boon, because having a literal take on the term expanded it to be less restricted, yet in a positive way. I don't know, I just like it a lot.

In any case, describing uproar simply as a calque of oproer or Aufruhr is inadequate, as it gives the (incorrect) impression to the unknowing reader that roer and *Ruhr (I know that Ruhr exists as a totally different word, but it doesn't exist in the fashion that I am talking about) mean "roar". Tharthan (talk) 15:04, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

Philippa et al. mention an Early Modern English form "uprour" (either from Early Modern Dutch or Middle Low German), which looks like a more straightforward loanword. The -roar would then be a folk-etymological alteration of the earlier form, which was a loanword. — Mnemosientje (t · c) 15:09, 17 January 2019 (UTC)


I have my doubts about the "Old English" part of this etymology. I've seen on Wiktionary before (although it isn't that common) doubtful claims that "Old English" origins are present for this word or that word, when it is quite clear that the word doesn't go back any further than Middle English.

I haven't changed it myself, just on the off chance that this word somehow does go back to Old English (I can't personally see how it could, but, hey, who knows?) Tharthan (talk) 00:32, 19 January 2019 (UTC)

I've checked tand it apparently is first attested in Middle English, so I've changed it appropriately. I think that some of these people are using "Old English" in a loose sense; i.e. "a earlier form of English". ---Hazarasp (talk) 06:45, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
I've been updating these as I find them, but yes, sometimes Old English was used when they really meant Middle English Leasnam (talk) 02:52, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

England - Etymology Dating - CitationsEdit

Does anyone have any information about when the actual term England, in that spelling, was first used? There is no information about that in either the Etymology or the Citations. Citations of the earliest known usage would be useful. This seems to be a deficiency, which I hope someone can fix. --richardb43 (sorry, forgotten how to do a proper signature)

I don't have an exact date, but this might help narrow down your search: it appears perhaps to be sometime in the Modern period. In Middle English we find Ingland and Englond, among others, but no *England. Leasnam (talk) 02:23, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

RFV: persisto#LatinEdit

From per- + sisto. Any doubt? Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 09:29, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

Lewis & Short agrees.  --Lambiam 20:37, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

bishop (chess)Edit

Many terms for the chess piece bishop in various languages fall in similar classes, but in many cases the etymology makes no mention of this, often only giving the etymology of the main sense. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

Läufer, cursor etc. ("runner"; "hunter")Edit

Many continental Germanic languages and Slavic languages beside some others (e.g. Romansch currider, Hungarian futó, Hebrew רָץ‎) have a term that literally translates to "runner". In many of the Germanic and maybe also the Slavic languages this meaning probably was a semantic borrowing or was in another way derived from German Läufer. Several dictionaries state that MHG loufer was already used in this sense, so this probably predates most of the other languages in this category. Certain South Slavic languages also have a term translating to "hunter", which might be a homophonic rendition of the Germanic. Latin also has cursor for this, beside apparently many other terms. Does anybody know whether this predates the German and whether it is a more likely origin for some term? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

офицер, αξιωματικός, etc. ("officer")Edit

These literally mean "officer", which is also in some other languages used as a non-specific term for rooks, knights and bishops. Any idea whether a borrowing or a language-internal development is more likely? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)


Does the sense bishop in this derive from Arabic فِيل‎(fīl) similar to or perhaps via Spanish alfil? Perhaps this is also comparable to the "officer" class. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

nebun ("madman")Edit

Has this been influenced by French fou? The translation table at bishop also has Hungarian bolond, though this meaning is absent from the entry and the translation was added by a Romanian IP. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

isqof, bispur ("bishop")Edit

Irish easpag, Maltese isqof, Icelandic biskup and Faroese bispur all literally mean "bishop", which is rather uncommon among European terms for the bishop in chess. Semantic borrowing from English seems plausible enough for Irish and Maltese. But is it also plausible for Faroese and Icelandic (distane doesn't seem a problem) or is instead based on the appearance of the chess piece? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)


Does the sense bishop in Mongolian тэмээ (temee), literally "camel", directly or ultimately derive from an Indian language, such as Hindi ऊँट (ū̃ṭ)? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

Murray, in his 1913 book A History of Chess, considers two possible parentages of the Mongol versian: Persian and directly Indian. Finding arguments for and against either theory, none conclusive, he appears to favour the Persian route (p. 376–7). As to the name of the bishop, he writes: “If we confine our attention to the ordinary chess, we have no instance of the replacement of the Elephant by the Camel in Persian chess. The change has been made in many forms of chess that have been recorded in India, but in every case the Elephant remains upon the chessboard in the place of the Rook. There is no known instance of any Indian game of chess in which the Camels stand on c1 and f1 (c8 and f8), and at the same time the Chariots stand on the corner squares. I conclude, therefore, that we have here an independent Mongol change, in which the typically Indian beast of burden is replaced by the typical Mongol beast, the two-humped or Bactrian camel, which is a native of Central Asia.”  --Lambiam 20:22, 21 January 2019 (UTC)


Where does the -umen come from? Our English etymology -and the RAE for that matter- only say "from Latin cera". Ultimateria (talk) 03:09, 22 January 2019 (UTC)