Wiktionary:Etymology scriptorium/2012/October

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Does anyone know of the origin of this word? etymonline.com says it comes from Latin iynx, which in turn is from Ancient Greek. But etymonline.com isn't always so reliable so does anyone else have anything about this? —CodeCat 12:06, 2 October 2012 (UTC)

I haven't found etymonline to be unreliable, and it does only say "perhaps ultimately". He doesn't just make shit up; he uses an array of reliable sources for his etymologies. At any rate, both iynx and ἴυγξ are real words, and both Merriam-Webster and American Heritage agree with the possibility/probability of this etymology. —Angr 12:59, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, my experience is that the Germanic etymologies are somewhat outdated at least concerning the reconstructed forms of Proto-Germanic words, not taking account sound laws that are considered well-established in modern linguistics. So maybe not unreliable, but certainly a bit outdated at times. In any case thank you for helping. —CodeCat 13:31, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
I think he just goes by what the established dictionaries say rather than keeping up with the bleeding edge of historical linguistics. (That's our job!) —Angr 13:33, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
The OED vaguely thinks it comes from the Greek for "the wryneck, a bird made use of in witchcraft; hence, a charm, a spell", via modern Latin and jynx (a much older version), but the OED is not always best for modern American words (only a hundred years old). What is the alternative theory of "the bleeding edge of historical linguistics"? Dbfirs 09:58, 4 October 2012 (UTC)
The Scottish jing (variants jings, jeengs), used as an expletive (like damn, shit, fuck), or the Scottish jink (to avoid, dodge, cheat, trick; > high jinks), might also be candidates we are overlooking. We just do not know. I am rather leery about an ancient Greek and Latin origin for a word which shows up as American baseball slang...Is there any historical or mediaeval use of iynx used in a similar way? The wryneck allusion to charm, spell is akin to calling a jinx a "newt" :\ , it's sorta weak. Leasnam (talk) 16:07, 5 October 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I suppose it could have a connection with the much older Scottish and northern English "jinked" (crooked), but "jynx" or "iynx" or "iyngs" has been used for a charm or spell since 1693 according to the OED. Has anyone found a usage of "jinx" before 1911? Dbfirs 22:12, 8 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, does jinx really mean "spell" per se? I am not even sure about that as a definition, especially as the first sense. Does it not rather first mean "bad luck", with the verb to jinx being an extension of this to mean "to put bad luck on"? Leasnam (talk) 17:13, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I've always heard it used with the implied meaning of a spell or hex or some such dark purpose behind the bad luck. How do you put bad luck on someone without some supernatural powers? Dbfirs 17:26, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, this might come down to a matter of which came first--the noun or the verb. If ti's the noun, then when one calls someone a jinx (eg. That man's a jinx.), does it really mean that that man is a spell/hex? Leasnam (talk) 17:32, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
I think the noun usage came first as a wryneck, but there seems to be an unexplained gap in usage before the word suddenly reappeared (probably first as a noun) just over a hundred years ago. Are you able to research the baseball usage before 1911? There's a Mr Jinx in Ballou's monthly magazine - Volume 6 - Page 276 in 1857, and a poem: "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines" in 1868. I wonder if these are the source of the re-introduction of the word. Jinx was also a name for Linaria vulgaris (Common Toadflax) in the mid-1800s, but that's not a likely source. Dbfirs 20:15, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

holy cow

I highly doubt it comes from Hinduism, as it says on the page. --WikiTiki89 (talk) 13:53, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

It didn't come from Hinduism. but I wouldn't be surprised if it were a dismissive reference to the reputed worship of cows in Hinduism. Chuck Entz (talk) 14:10, 3 October 2012 (UTC)


See Talk:grossus. - -sche (discuss) 19:24, 8 October 2012 (UTC)


See Talk:discard.

amongst, whilst, amidst, etc

I've always been curious as to whether there was ever any actual distinction between these terms and the ones without -st. The relevant entries say that the -s indicates genetivity. The pages don't assign any semantic meaning to the -t, so I'm assuming that it is the result of some sort of sound change or analogy?
Anyway, why did Old/Middle English put these words into the genetive? Was it once invariable that they were genetive, or were their specific circumstances where they were supposed to be genetive and others where they weren't? (I may be looking for more material for annoying pedantry around my office :P).
Hope that I'm not using the scriptorium incorrectly
Furius (talk) 10:20, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

The -t is excresent and adds nothing but a style in pronunciation (perhaps to keep the s from sounding like a z, which might get confused with a plural [?]). It probably resulted due to a following th-, as in amonges the => amongest the. The Middle English ending was -es, which was used to create adverbs, a trait inherited from Old Enlgish. I wouldn't say that the -s is genitive though; rather adverbial derived from the adverbial use of the oblique genitive. Today, it is a dialectal, or stylistic variation--I often use both forms with and without -st in different settings. Leasnam (talk) 17:06, 11 October 2012 (UTC)


Are we sure this is from de#Latin, rather than (like à#French) from ad#Latin? - -sche (discuss) 21:54, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

I'm not convinced of de, but ab is plausible. Semantically, ad doesn't fit the "from" sense (I'm not positive about the "by" sense). Chuck Entz (talk) 01:54, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
The "by" sense is also more plausibly from Latin ā, ab, which is also used to indicate the agent of a passive verb. —Angr 21:34, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

Various etymological questions about Lithuanian

From now on, I will try to ask my questions here rather than on talk pages.

Thank you, --Fsojic (talk) 19:49, 13 October 2012 (UTC)


Modified several etymologies to claim that a certain group of words came to Arabic from Persian, rather than the other way around; can anyone confirm or refute that? (If the claims are correct, then the etymologies also need cleanup, but it seems pointless to do that cleanup before confirming their basic accuracy.)

Thanks in advance!
RuakhTALK 17:30, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

I undid this edit simply because it was ill-formed ("from From"). - -sche (discuss) 22:41, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
Earlier I undid an edit someone made to *zaman-. Could it be the same person? —CodeCat 22:45, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

lapereau, lapin

lapereau claims that it derives from lapin + suffix. lapin claims to be a variation of lapereau. Er... - -sche (discuss) 02:17, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

Historically, lapin came from lapereau, but in Modern French lapereau is indeed lapin +‎ -eau. (Our etymology for lapereau needs work, but I think we'd be remiss if we completely removed mention of lapin, because I think the existence of lapin is the main reason that lapereau still exists.) —RuakhTALK 02:40, 19 October 2012 (UTC)


According to D. Ringe this goes back to PIE *én. However, other sources seem to include a laryngeal, *h₁én. Ringe says there is no evidence for a laryngeal, but he doesn't say what evidence there is against one either. I don't know what evidence there could possibly be for a laryngeal in this case. Note that there are also related forms, *(h₁)énteros (Latin interior) and zero-grade *(h₁)n̥- for which an entry already exists. Which of these two forms has better support, and which arguments are there for each form? Does anyone know more? —CodeCat 16:21, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

I suspect Ringe simply means that if there's no positive evidence in favor of a laryngeal, we shouldn't reconstruct one. I don't think he means to suggest there definitely wasn't a laryngeal there. I think that's a valid argument for function words, but it does seem that lexical words couldn't be vowel-initial, so that (pace Ringe), *alyos, *eḱwos, etc. should really be *h₂elyos, *h₁eḱwos, etc. —Angr 20:57, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
Guys, I got an idea: let's record a native speaker pronouncing the word and see whether the laryngeal is there or not. --WikiTiki89 21:07, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
Excellent idea! Please do so ASAP. Chuck Entz (talk) 21:13, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
But when is something a functional word and when is it a lexical word? *ályos is considered a determiner in PIE and has a distinct inflection to reflect that (pronomial inflection, with masc. n.pl. in -oy and neut nom/acc.sg. in -od). To me, reconstructing a laryngeal based on "all other words have an initial consonant" when there is no evidence for one, seems a bit like putting the cart before the horse, if not plain circular reasoning. —CodeCat 21:16, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
Since a reconstruction is a hypothesis, anyway, it would seem reasonable to me to incorporate hypothesized phonotactic constraints. I'm not sure how to formulate it, but there seems to be a difference of type based on the degree of words' independence from other words in use. It certainly affects accentuation and vowel quality, so a difference in which initial sounds are allowed might be plausible. Difficulty in pinning down the membership of some marginal cases wouldn't necessarily invalidate the categories. Chuck Entz (talk) 22:23, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
Honestly guys, I think the best option is to create both entries, have one be an alternative form of the other or something, and explain the whole situation in a usage note. --WikiTiki89 23:00, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
But then which should be the main entry? :) Personally I would prefer naming the entry (h₁)én. On the other hand, that solution works here, but it doesn't work for initial a- or o-. So we'd need a different approach for that. —CodeCat 23:43, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
This may seem rather esoteric, but a proto-language reconstruction is a tool of historical linguistics created using rules derived from that discipline. It's inherently a theoretical and hypothetical abstraction, so theoretical and abstract considerations are important to getting it right. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:03, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
Since there is no evidence for the laryngeal, I would say just make the main entry without one and explain that there could have been one in a usage note. --WikiTiki89 09:34, 20 October 2012 (UTC)


Etymologically speaking, why is there a discrepancy between himself/herself/themselves (using the dative/accusative case) and myself/yourself/yourselves/thyself/ourselves (using the genitive/possessive case)? And which group does oneself belong to? --WikiTiki89 10:02, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

According to [1] and [2], the dative/accusative case was the original form, but this was apparently reinterpreted as the possessive because of sound changes in the word. This might have then given rise to yourself and ourselves analogically. Having herself, which could be either, would certainly have helped with that. I wonder if we can find any citations for meself, youself, youselves, theeself and usselves? —CodeCat 12:20, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, meself conflicts with a dialectal pronunciation of myself (where my is frequently shortened to me), youself happens to be a common misspelling of yourself, theeself conflicts with the incorrect modern archaic-sounding usage of thee for all forms of thou (get's hits like "thee is but a dog theeself"), and usselves seems to be used in AAVE but is unlikely to be a remnant of the original. So real remnants of the original form are going to be hard to find. --WikiTiki89 14:12, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
In Middle English we find pairings like: ȝe self ("ye self"), þu seolf ("thou self"), he self ("he self"), heo seolf ("she self"), þi self, þe seolfe and þe selve ("thee self"), mi selven and me seolven ("me self"); where the word for "self" follows either a subject or object noun or pronoun [I have listed only pronomial examples here], and appears to be translated as "xxx-self" (i.e. ȝe self = ye yourselves; þu seolf = thou thyself; etc). Leasnam (talk) 01:21, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
That reminds me of the Dutch situation. In Dutch you can still combine zelf with any kind of pronoun, subject or object. Does modern English have any traces of this, perhaps in dialects? —CodeCat 01:31, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
  • I don't know the answer, but this is a really interesting question; commenting to remind myself to look into it later. Ƿidsiþ 08:06, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
    Interesting enough, but a gbSearch for "heself", "weselves" and "theyselves" returned a good number of hits. Whether or not these are recent creations or carry-overs from previous times I do not know... Leasnam (talk) 19:05, 30 October 2012 (UTC)


The Latin verb. Does anyone know where it comes from? It looks like it should be from an Indo-European root *ges- or something similar (to explain the participle gestus), but does anyone have better information? —CodeCat 00:01, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

Etymonline provides the less than satisfactory "of unknown origin"(http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=gest&allowed_in_frame=0). I can't find anything on JSTOR, except for an 1860 article claiming that it has cognates in Chinese! Furius (talk) 08:28, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
Sihler's New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, p. 171, says "of obscure etym[ology] but transparently ges-", so internal reconstruction gets us as far as *gesō but beyond that, no one knows. I'd be disinclined to accept the hypothesis of cognates in Chinese. —Angr 20:10, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
Whatever it is, the fact that it has formed a perfect and perfect participle with an original PIE formation does suggest that it is probably quite old, of Pre-Italic date. —CodeCat 20:39, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
I don't know about that. Both the perfect in -sī and the past participle in -tus are quite productive in Italic; they could have been formed at any time before rhotacization. —Angr 21:01, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
Rhotacization happened within Old Latin, so it wasn't really that long before the classical period, maybe a few hundred years. I wonder how productive they really could have been, though, considering that the 3rd conjugation as a whole was unproductive since it consisted of PIE primary verbs (compare the Germanic strong verbs, which are historically identical). As far as I know, newly formed verbs always ended up in the other three conjugational classes. —CodeCat 21:11, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
I did say "productive in Italic", not "productive in Latin". The fact that it has these forms doesn't mean it has to have been PIE, since both forms spread beyond their original verbs. Now if the perfect were reduplicated (gegerī?) or if the present had a nasal infix (gēnsō?) or something like that, I'd say it must be IE somehow. But not just on the basis of having an s-perfect and an athematic past participle. —Angr 22:50, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
I didn't mean to say that it had to have been IE, just that it was probably already a part of the language before the split-up of the Italic languages. —CodeCat 22:53, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
I find it interesting that two very semantically-similar words like gero and fero would also be as morphologically-similar as they are. I wonder if either one influenced the other... Chuck Entz (talk) 05:13, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
It's doubtful. They only came to be similar because of rhotacization, so before that they were more different in form. —CodeCat 12:10, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
And because fero is irregular, they're not even that similar post-rhotacization. In the present, they don't rhyme in the 2nd person singular and plural or in the 3rd person singular, nor do any forms based on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th principal parts rhyme. —Angr 21:15, 23 October 2012 (UTC)


A blend between hump and hillock? I'm not so sure. After all, -ock is a diminutive suffix inherited from Old English, so this could easily be simply a diminutive of hump or a similar word (perhaps holm). That's what other dictionaries say, too, by the way. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:00, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

Sense 2 of hammock (really US only?) might be the same or a similarly formed word. It's certainly etymologically unrelated to hamaca, considering the divergent meaning; see also Wikipedia. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:40, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
Definitely not the blend, since the earliest spelling was hammok (1589). The "u" appeared with hummocke in 1608, and the word hump not for another hundred years. Hillock is much older, appearing in Wycliffe's bible of 1382. It's possible that the origin is Low German humpel (via Dutch?), but the derivation is unclear. We do need to change our entry. Dbfirs 21:43, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
I've removed the wrong etymology, but I can't convince myself of a correct one. Dbfirs 21:55, 11 November 2012 (UTC)