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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← May 2012 · June 2012 · July 2012 → · (current)
Proto-Polynesian[watch | edit]

For any and all who care, I have populated Category:Proto-Polynesian language with some of the most basic terms (common nouns and adjectives, numbers one through ten). If anyone is interested in Polynesian etymologies, feel free to help out by improving and adding to these and/or linking to these in etymologies. --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 22:13, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

*Sawaiki should be Proto-Nuclear-Polynesian rather than Proto-Polynesian, unless you know of reflexes in Tongan or Niuean that aren't in Pollex. It's tempting to include PNP and PEP (Proto-Eastern-Polynesian), but they're really separate proto-languages, presumably representing later stages in more restricted subsets of the family. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:18, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
I generally tried to verify at least one Tongic cognate for each, but if you find any more slip-ups, do tell. I'll snoop around for something in Tongan before fixing this, though. --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 05:09, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
I found a veritable treasure trove on *Sawaiki and PPN: this thread at Unilang. The takeaway is that Avaiki does exist in Niuean (no mention of Tongan), but the two arguing parties are locked on whether it is a recent borrowing/false friend or a legitimate derived term (where we would expect *Havaiki in Niuean instead). I'm leaning towards 19th-c. borrowing, but I'm still trying to save this one. --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 05:33, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
Note that *qarofa is also suspect, and Pollex doesn't seem to have any info on it. Any help would be welcome. --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 02:00, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

I have found Niuean fakaalofa, so *qarofa is saved. I will keep *Sawaiki as PPN but add a usage note (we don't have the infrastructure for PNP anyway, even if that niuean placename were found to be unrelated). --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:41, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

  • If you find any etymologies with "Originally x", shoot them on sight. Those are (thankfully departed) User:Drago (talkcontribs)'s lame version of reconstructed forms. I'm working on replacing them with real etymologies, but feel free to convert them to Proto-Polynesian if you get to them first- just don't assume he got the proto-forms right. Chuck Entz (talk) 08:05, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
    I noticed, and whenever I see them, have been replacing them with real PPN. His forms tend to be incorrect more often than they are correct, but I didn't realize it was all one person. --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 03:48, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
glia[watch | edit]

Something seems wrong here. How does Greek kolla become English glia? (I notice that w:Neuroglia says the etymon is a different Greek word for "glue".) —RuakhTALK 16:53, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

There are three grc words for something like "glue" that are much closer. The word closest to glia seems not to have been as common as at least one of the others. I have added them and commented out tr=kolla. It could be a cognate. DCDuring TALK 17:19, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

mauvais, malvais, malvagio

The current etymology derives the term from Germanic, and posits a change from b- to m- by analogy with mal. But the etymologies I find elsewhere derive this from Vulgar Latin *malifatius or some variety. The Germanic words mentioned in our etymology don't all seem to be attested either. I can't find any reference to an Old High German balwāsi in any OHG dictionaries, nor to Old Norse bǫlvíss, and even if both are attested they can't be direct cognates because of the difference in the vowels (OHG ā can't correspond to ON í). The Gothic term balwawēsei (an abstract noun) does seem attested, once, but the second term *wēs- doesn't seem to be attested anywhere else in any Germanic language (whereas wīs- is well attested) so it is likely a spelling error for weis- (which is actually wīs- in Gothic spelling). So, if this does derive from Germanic, there are some loose ends that the etymology doesn't explain satisfactorily. —CodeCat 22:12, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

My dictionaries don't even mention the Germanic theory. They have the Vulgar Latin origin only.
Old Norse bǫlvíss seems a compound to me: bǫl (n wa-stem) meaning "Übel, Unheil" in German + víss. But this is just for completeness sake. I'd rather rely on the dictionaries and remove that Germanic theory from the lemma.
--MaEr (talk) 15:18, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Spanish and Portuguese malvado seem to be cognate. There's also a very rare verb malvar (I'm trying to track back to where I saw this: most dictionaries don't have it), but it may just be a back-formation from malvado. Chuck Entz (talk) 16:24, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
See [1] for malvagio etymology. SemperBlotto (talk) 16:27, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Well, at least now we have a good idea as to where Leasnam got his etymology from. My first impression is that the references to Old English (I'm assuming that's what ang-sass refers to) with bal- instead of beal- don't look right. Chuck Entz (talk) 14:26, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
I think the form balowiso or baluwiso is the Old Saxon version of this word ( = the Devil). Old English (West Saxon dialect) would normally break the first vowel into ea in this instance. I actually got the etymology from a French Etymological dictionary here [[2]]. Leasnam (talk) 22:55, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
A Google Books Search for 'balvais' will also turn up additional references and sources. Leasnam (talk) 23:10, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

lóð, etymology 2

Judging from the meaning, this is probably from Middle Low German lōd (lead, weight) (compare Dutch lood, German Lot). I don't think it can be native Old Norse because the Germanic term was *laudą and au remains unchanged in Icelandic (at least in spelling). Can anyone confirm this? —CodeCat 13:09, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

I have no dictionary that says that lóð is borrowed but your assumptions about the vowels are correct, as far as I can see.
Danish lod (,2&query=lod) and Swedish lod ( are borrowed from Middle Low German, as well as Faer. lóður (according to Alf Torp, Nynorsk etymologisk ordbok). --MaEr (talk) 17:49, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
cavallo[watch | edit]

This Italian word's etymology section describes it as "wordplay" on the name of Alexander's horse. Is that so? - -sche (discuss) 07:35, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

  • Famously, Latin caballus is not a native word, and presumably was borrowed from somewhere, but etymologists have not agreed on a source. I have never heard this theory before though and it sounds very speculative. Different books I have suggest Gaulish or Anatolian sources; for our purposes I'd think it's best just to say ‘origin uncertain’. Ƿidsiþ 07:42, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
  • Ridiculous. The origin of caballus is questionable (and our etym could probably do a better job), but the origin of cavallo is not. I will remove the stupidity in a day or so if nobody comes up with a good reason why I shouldn't. --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 15:33, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
I suspect the "wordplay" theory is referring to Latin caballus, not to cavallo, but either way it needs to go if it can't be backed up with published sources. —Angr 19:02, 13 June 2012 (UTC)


Would love to know the etymology of this word. First came across it the other day in an old TV show where Mama Cass was introduced as "the most fantastic lady of the Now Sound: the inimitable Miss Mama Cass." ---> Tooironic (talk) 23:01, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

I imagine it's in- (not) + imitable (able to be imitated). —CodeCat 23:10, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
In that case would you mind adding that to the entry? Cheers. ---> Tooironic (talk) 23:18, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Differences in Greek Languages

I am editting a word using and the etymology section of the word states Late Greek, then says Greek. I assume that Greek is Ancient Greek; However what would I classify Late Greek as. I used the code gkm. Thanks in advance. Speednat (talk) 14:42, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

For Wiktionary's purposes, there's Ancient Greek (see WT:AGRC) and Modern Greek (see WT:AEL), with the arbitrary cutoff set at the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Mycenaean Greek (gmy) is a special subset of Ancient Greek. Referring to things like Late Greek or Medieval Greek in etymologies is not a problem, but there's no point in changing "Late Greek" to "gkm", since our categorization doesn't make that distinction. Chuck Entz (talk) 15:23, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, that helps a lot.Speednat (talk) 15:38, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
Where did you get the code "gkm" from? It doesn't seem to be an ISO 639-3 code. —Angr 18:24, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
Probably from WT:LANGLIST Chuck Entz (talk) 01:02, 22 June 2012 (UTC)
gkm was requested. Ungoliant MMDCCLXIV 01:16, 22 June 2012 (UTC)


An etymology of this bird-name is found in just about every English-language bird book that states that the name comes from a word for a medieval executioner, because the black head and shoulder feathers resemble the hood such executioners wore. While I don't doubt that medieval executioners wore such a hood, I can't seem to find such a word.The derivation found in dictionaries from Spanish junco from Latin juncus, both meaning rush (the plant, genus Juncus) makes perfect sense from a historical-linguistics point of view.

Is this etymology from bird books an erroneous factoid that someone made up and everyone else copied without checking, or is there a real sense of junco that I just haven't found documentation of (yet)? Chuck Entz (talk) 10:56, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

  • The OED says it is from the Spanish for reed - and says the English word refers to the reed bunting, reed sparrow or American finches. SemperBlotto (talk) 11:08, 22 June 2012 (UTC)


I've added an etymology for this word, from the etymonline website. Can I ask one of you guys to check if I did it right (should the source be in the same heading as the etymology?), and then tell me what mistakes I made? (I needed it to compare Latvian tīklene 'retina', which I think is a calque of the original Latin.) --Pereru (talk) 13:27, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

I tidied it up a bit. One mistake you made was putting ==Etymology== with only 2 = signs instead of ===Etymology===. Another mistake (which I didn't correct) is that you have copied the Online Etymology Dictionary's text word for word. That's a copyright violation. You can use it a source, but you have to state the etymology in your own words. Finally, the Arabic and Greek should be given in their native scripts. If you don't know those scripts, you can request them using the {{rfscript}} tag. —Angr 14:13, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
I've now changed the text of the etymology of retina so that it differs (I hope substantially) from the original. Could you give it another look, just in case this wasn't enough or there is some other mistake I haven't seen? Thanks! --Pereru (talk) 12:58, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
This is an archive page that has been kept for historical purposes. The conversations on this page are no longer live.