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RFV of the etymology:

From Middle Low German kweke

Given the wide variation in the modern English descendants (couch, quitch, quack grass, scutch grass, twitch, etc.), I can see how there might be more than one source- but I've always thought of Middle Low German as contemporaneous with Middle English, not Old English. Chuck Entz (talk) 06:15, 1 November 2015 (UTC)

There is a relevant footnote on page 199 of Brian Cooper's Of Cabbages — and Kings: Lexicological and Etymological Studies on Russian Plant Nomenclature (which I painstakingly reconstructed from the fragmented Google Books snippet view):
5. One might mention here quitch/couch/quack/quick (grass), also known as wheat-grass (Russ. пырей, see section 3 under the heading пыро, пырей) which is generally assumed to be of the same root (OEng. cwice, MLGer. kweke, Dut. kweek, Ger. Quecke) with reference to its vitality; compare Dan. kvik, kæk in the ‘lively’ sense with kvik, kvæk (græs) in the grass sense, and similarly Nor. kvikk, kjekk with kvikke.
Here is the part of the page that references the footnote (which is regarding the Russian word жито (žito, grain)), in case it is relevant:
Etymologically the word is generally derived from the same root as Russ. жить ‘live’ with the ‘object/implement’ suffix -то seen in золото ‘gold’, сито ‘sieve’ (Preobraženskij 1951, Šanskij 1963–, Cyganenko 1970: s.v. жито), and thus ultimately from the Indo-European root *gʷei-/*gʷi- ‘live’ (OCSlav. жити/живу < IE *gʷeiti/*gʷiwo), as seen in OPruss. geits, accusative geitan ‘bread’ (Vasmer 1964–73, Preobraženskij 1951: s.v. жито) i.e. the staff of life, giwei ‘life’, gaydis ‘wheat’ and in many other cognate words (Cyganenko 1970: s.v. жито; Miklosich 1886: s.v. živ-), such as these words for ‘lively’, ‘alive’: Lith. gaivus, Latv. dzīvs, Sanskrit jivas, Lat. vivus (< gvivus), Gothic *qius, found in the plural qiwai (< kwiwo-z < IE *gʷiwo-), ONorse kvikr (< *kwikwo-z), Swed. qvick, Eng. quick, Dut. kwik, Ger. keck (dialectically queck),5 and OIrish bui/beo (cf. Grk. bíos ‘life’, also with b < ). The original meaning of жито would therefore appear to have been a foodstuff, and indeed in Old Church Slavonic the word was evidently used to mean fruit (Miklosich 1862–65: s.v. жито; Brückner 1927: s.v. žyto) as well as cereals (Holub and Kopečný 1952: s.v. žito).
So it seems that while Middle Low German kweke is related, it is not the source of Old English cwice. --WikiTiki89 07:11, 1 November 2015 (UTC)
Yeah that etym was all wrong. I have changed it. Leasnam (talk) 12:55, 1 November 2015 (UTC)


We currently list this French word for "slug" as "From Vulgar Latin *limacea, ultimately from Latin limax ‎('slug, snail')". We don't list the Old French etymon. Does anyone know it? (I'm curious because w:Rashi uses it in his commentary to the w:Babylonian Talmud, w:tractate Shabbat 77, but in transliteration, so I don't know how it's spelled.)​—msh210 (talk) 05:39, 2 November 2015 (UTC)

It appears that it was limaz. How did Rashi spell it? I suppose it would count as Zarphatic. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 06:10, 2 November 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, I suppose it would count as Zarphatic. I didn't even know that that was (considered) a language: I'd always thought of those thingies as transliterations. (They're all over his commentary to the Talmud.)

It says

in modern editions. However, I wouldn't trust that that's an accurate transcription of mss., since (presumably) later transcribers had little knowledge of Old French / Zarphatic and may have copied it wrong. (Also, I suspect the gershayim indicates a foreign word in running Hebrew text rather than is a part of the foreign word.)​—msh210 (talk) 18:14, 2 November 2015 (UTC)
What I can tell you is that צ was the usual letter Rashi used to transcribe soft c, and א was the usual letter Rashi used for final schwa, so very likely the Latin spelling of Rashi's word was in fact limace. @Metaknowledge: Maybe limaz was the nominative? I don't think Rashi used nominatives. --WikiTiki89 18:27, 2 November 2015 (UTC)
Or there might have been variation in gender, since the schwa was the remnant of the Latin -a/ first declension ending, and other vowels after the stressed syllable tended to disappear. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:20, 3 November 2015 (UTC)
  • @Renard Migrant would know. But yeah, limaz was the nominative (note that it was pronounced /limats/). —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 02:59, 3 November 2015 (UTC)
    If it's anything like fornaz, then limaz is both nominative and oblique. Perhaps some dialects had a schwa, but the standard one did not? After all, the modern forms of both do have the silent e. --WikiTiki89 03:22, 3 November 2015 (UTC)

Sound change name

Is there a name for the change of an /n/ sound to /m/? The etymology of bommie (slang for bonfire) could really do with it. Smurrayinchester (talk) 09:28, 3 November 2015 (UTC)

The process at work here is assimilation (specifically regressive assimilation, since it's the preceding sound that changes), followed by clipping: bonfire --> *bomfire --> *bom (+ie) --> bommie. Chuck Entz (talk) 14:22, 3 November 2015 (UTC)
Thanks! Smurrayinchester (talk) 14:29, 3 November 2015 (UTC)

Etymology of the very good sense for English smashing

Semantically, the shift from violently strike together to very good leaves me scratching my head. I've bumped into mentions in various places that the very good sense actually derives from roughly-homophonic Irish phrase is maith sin or Scots Gaelic phrase 's math sin, literally meaning that's good. However, Doric Loon (talkcontribs) states on Talk:smashing that any Gaelic origin is only an urban legend, but without providing any evidence or alternate origins.

Can anyone find evidence for the etymology of this very good sense, one way or the other? I've poked around in my own meager resources for English etymologies, and only drawn a blank. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 20:25, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

I don't know, but plenty of words for "excellent" seem to have violent overtones: stunning, cracking, a thumping good time... Things that are good "kick arse"; a good thing "beats" an inferior thing... Equinox 20:31, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
I think these senses stem from being good at defeating an oponent. --WikiTiki89 20:58, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
    • Since I was quoted a little further up, I should answer. I once read a comment on this by an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. She had been asked why they didn't record the Gaelic etymology here, and she answered by going through the evidence and showing why she did not think it was plausible. Unfortunately I have no idea where to find that, so for the moment you have to decide whether to believe me as a source or not. But I have studied language history myself, and I recognized her arguments as being exactly the way you would expect a linguist to think. She started by showing that the development of "smashing" as a part of "smash" to "smashing" = "good" is linguistically easy. There is no formal change at all, and the semantic change is an example of a very wide-spread phenonomenon where "bad" means "good". Think of "to spank" > "a spanking new car". On the other hand, a development from "Is math sin" > "smashing" has all kinds of problems, not least that you are using a whole sentence as an adjective, which could only be done by someone who didn't understand the Gaelic. I suppose one person could say "Is math sin!", someone else who doesn't know the language could pick it up and say "Smashing!" and later it could become an adjective, but that is semantically and grammatically far more complicated. The second main argument is that English has borrowed very few words from Gaelic, and when it does, you can always trace the cultural origins. The word "Tory" comes from Irish, and the first use of the word in English can be shown to be in Ireland. But tracing back the history of "smashing" in English does not show evidence that it started in Ireland or Scotland, or among expats of those countries. So while it is not utterly impossible, some actual evidence would be required. Otherwise, any linguist is going to accept the easier explanation. --Doric Loon (talk) 14:23, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I agree that misinformation should not be presented as the scholarly view. However, when misinformation is all any of us can find, then I think that misinformation should be included, with clear indication of how and why it is misinformation. Simply leaving a blank suggests that we just haven't bothered to put anything there. The purported Gaelic origin for smashing appears to be commonly mentioned enough, even in educational contexts like a BBC audio curriculum for Ulster Irish, to warrant mention here as well -- with notes about the caveats, and that this is not a linguistically-backed etymology.
Doric Loon, it would be great if you could find that OED editor's quote, especially if it's online and we could link to it in the ===References=== section. Even if you can't find it, I think the smashing entry would be better served by having something under the ===Etymology=== header that describes the current state of knowledge about the origins of the term with regard to the very good sense. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 20:34, 15 November 2015 (UTC)

Suspicious contributions from User:Ivadon

Is it possible to verify his Proto-Afro-Asiatic entries [1], they seem to me like fakes or speculations. His etymology trees don't make sense. Thank you -- 12:46, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

Just speedy delete them, they're pure BS. -- 13:18, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
The reconstructions are grounded on an intricate system of sound shifts that I've elaborated in a couple weeks of most intensive study. I understand they look highly speculative and alien if not BS to anyone! And there's also much potential for evaluation re. orthography and the nomenclature “Afro-Asiatic”. I will soon follow with some explanations, so, a little more patience, please! — Ivadon (talk) 16:19, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
PS: If there's any policy on far-fetched reconstructions that I've missed please tell me. But can't we discuss this first? — Ivadon (talk) 16:23, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
@Ivadon: Yes: Wiktionary:Votes/2013-10/Reconstructions need references. --WikiTiki89 16:31, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
Wow, as I see the decision is very recent. Did'nt notice it yet. Thanks. — Ivadon (talk) 18:24, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
It was always an unofficial rule that we only include widely-accepted reconstructions. --WikiTiki89 04:14, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Too late- they're gone. The IP was too kind. Any Afro-Asiatic reconstruction that includes languages such as Greenlandic or Nahuatl but no actual Afro-Asiatic languages is beyond awful. Any reconstruction that has all of the following senses is random nonsense, not really a reconstruction in any valid linguistic sense:
  1. rock, mountain
  2. heaven, cloud
  3. life, bread
  4. lord, leader
There are many more points I could make, but that should suffice. Yes, we have some Proto-Altaic, and yes, some of our Proto-Indo-European reconstructions aren't found in the literature, but those are based on bodies of work done by linguists. Your reconstructions show enough fatal methodological flaws that they're meaningless- you could reconstruct connections between almost any words in almost any language if given enough time. They're so bad, they don't belong anywhere on Wiktionary. Chuck Entz (talk) 16:59, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
(Semitic languages were not yet there because that's not the “new thing”). Afro-Asiatic is IMHO a debatable concept just as Nostratic, Borean and “proto-World” are. They may or may not be synonymous to each other.
Sorry, it was not yet denotated that the senses exclude each other; they were successive and changing according to the religious beliefs of the people which the language was imposed upon.
We might too want to calibrate our positions on the w:Paleolithic Continuity Theory and Greenberg's and w:Christopher Ehret's works first, but it's true I can never be too sure about my methodology because I really am just another amateur (a passionate one anyway). But what it has shown to me so far is that the reconstructs are not at all meaningless and arbitrary, and they too exhibit tight phonosemantical paradigms that have interesting parallels with the world's early literary-liturgical texts.
I do rather dare to say that some of my results cast serious doubt on the integrity of the current classification of Eurasian (esp. IE, Uralic and Altaic) languages. Yes, yes, yes, I know its Original Research, but some of them I'd nevertheless like to examinate independently, later on. --— Ivadon (talk) 18:02, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
Chuck, btw, your somewhat pedagogical response did irresistibly recall to me the reception of a 2012 study on Anatolian/PIE, which, notably, had mainly sparked my current ”studies”. — Ivadon (talk) 18:02, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
First of all, w:Afroasiatic necessarily involves Semitic (Asian) and various African language groups such as Egyptian, Berber and Chadic (some of the groups included by some are questionable, but the core isn't). Whatever it is you're reconstructing shouldn't be called by that name. Second, Afroasiatic has cognate sets using core vocabulary without nearly the level of semantic gymnastics you're talking about- things like numbers and pronouns (I also remember seeing a set for "bush"). There's uncertainty as to the extent of its membership and details of the reconstructions, but there's widespread acceptance among linguists that some form of it is valid. It's a very old language family, so it will probably never be as well-understood as Indo-European, for instance.
As to methodology: Semitic languages are very strongly consonant-based, so I have trouble seeing how you can connect إله‎ and واسع‎, which are completely different as far as consonants go. Same with the English cognates: abode, agog, anger, eye, goad, hang, and high. And you see nothing wrong with connecting that to *qao, which is just a glottal stop and a diphthong. Everywhere I look I see problems like that. I'm sorry, but I don't see how you could come up with something that would overturn centuries of extensive work by hundreds of scholars in a couple of weeks- especially with no training in historical linguistics, and the randomness of your cognate sets just makes my doubts worse. Yes, some great scholars have been met with skepticism over the centuries, but so have the guys with the tinfoil hats. You have yet to demonstrate even a glimmer of anything that would show you to be the former rather than the latter. Chuck Entz (talk) 20:05, 14 November 2015 (UTC)
I admit that the two Arabic and other descendants may not be the best demonstration for an impatient child that wants to see clear, immediate results. But I will be so kind and explain this to you:
The first thing that these words have in common is their Aleph. Note that Aleph/Alif in Arabic is a consonant too. Then, both words end in an laryngeal sound, and begin with either a glottal stop or a bilabial approximant. I have analysed these sounds as being allophones of an archaic single guttural consonant “q” that contrasts only with a frontal consonant “p” or “t”.
In this early stage of the language, there were only plain stops, perhaps click sounds, and no affricates or approximates. All other consonants have gradually developed through a long-lasting cascading decay process—for example, some cases of [c] split into [s] or [š]—, and this explains the phonologically very homogenous reconstructions for common Afrasian vocabulary. —This unsigned comment was added by Ivadon (talkcontribs).
The letter aleph in واسع‎ is not a consonant but simply a representation of the long-a vowel. --WikiTiki89 18:49, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
@Chuck Entz: I don't know why you're even bothering to discuss the completely ridiculous reconstructions. Ivadon himself called them "far-fetched" above. --WikiTiki89 04:14, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
This comment reveals that you seem to have minimal interest in progressive, interdisciplinary anthropological research, although I have expected a bit more appreciation from a peek on your User page. What I find completely ridiculous, in turn, is that you and the handful other guys act on me as if I would commit a sacrilege, a shameful assault on the holy canon of Afro-Asiatic linguistics, or historiolinguistics in general, even though no one of you has ever made a single contribution in this category, which does contain no 3 entries. --— Ivadon (talk) 17:57, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Reconstructing proto-languages is not simply a matter of finding a common denominator in a list of descendants. You must also find a set of rules that show how the reconstructed term evolved into each descendant, both phonologically and semantically; and this set of rules must work consistently for every reconstructed word in the proto-language. Since you have not done that, there is no reason to take your reconstruction seriously. Anyone can do what you did with any set of words selected at random from a dictionary. --WikiTiki89 18:49, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Kids, now you get completely hysterical about me. I do this for a good purpose, one that goes far beyond academic wishy-washy consensus debates like this. --— Ivadon (talk) 17:57, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Further evidence for the core points of this whole giant hoax is now being elaborated at this page: w:User:Ivadon/Thule. --— Ivadon (talk) 17:57, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Take a look at this. This is a database of Afroasiatic etymologies by linguist Alexander Militarev, scholar of Afroasiatic languages and comparative-historical linguistics. The database is a source and should serve you as a model and guideline to true scientific comparative method. Note the essential and numerous differences between your approach and the one utilized by the linguist. This ought to alter your behavior of sticking to fringe theories and producing original research of zero linguistic value caused by a misapprehension of linguistic methods (a language with 4 phonemes?? etc. etc.). Wiktionary reconstructions are based on acknowledged sources documenting sound laws and/or specific reconstructions, not speculations. -- 21:19, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Most part of historiolinguistics generally neglects the fact that spoken language, with whatever number of phonemes, has always been only one way to express oneself and communicate, to distinguish words and meanings, besides gestures, voice, etc. In a very noisy environment like the famous oriental bazars, the latter methods were often much more significant, and only a very small phoneme inventory could be maintained. — Ivadon (talk) 17:23, 17 November 2015 (UTC)
Hmm, I am reminded of the venerable Zompist website's linguistic articles, particularly:
Fun reads, at any rate. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 01:53, 17 November 2015 (UTC)
You say it, but please remember, I am not reconstructing the single world language, the one that was presumably spoken 100,000—200,000 BCE or so (see Wiki) around African and Eurasian peoples, but the language of that small group of aristocrat families [also referred to as the “upper ten thousand”] that lived in the Horn of Africa region around 17,000 BCE, and brought some crucial technologies (eg., at least one of the known hieroglyphic scripts, including the yet undeciphered) and societal changes to the people of the Old World, and that has left a very thick stratum of vocabulary in almost all literary languages.
I do currently think that language was in the same category as the primary language groups of Africa—Khoisan, Nilo-Saharan, etc.
I think we need a better way to distinguish those words from the inherited lexicon of languages in Proto-language entries. There's a problem with Finnish “borrowings” from Proto-Germanic that I want to discuss sometime…
And okay, I am not completely sure as to whether this was something like Proto-Afro-Asiatic or not, but it seems akin to it.
There are many references to such a people in many of the old narratives of Eurasian oral tradition—This topic covers a vast area of humanities (and it's original research), thus its better to halt the debate in this place…
Finally, to be clear, I won't add anything of my material to the core dictionary (but, if you allow, some samples of it on my User pages)! — Ivadon (talk) 17:23, 17 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm confused: what does the state of ancestor languages in 17,000 BCE have to do with writing? The oldest writing dates to ~3,500 BCE, last I read. That is far too much of a time gap. And what of human groups already in Eurasia from before 17,000 BCE? There is evidence of complex enough cultural activity to circumstantially indicate the presence of language outside of Africa well before this date. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 18:43, 17 November 2015 (UTC)
Writing was invented only after the last great migration wave from Africa had finally settled. Your second point refers to an argument “there was no complex culture or language in Eurasia before that” that I have never made. — Ivadon (talk) 13:18, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Let's set aside the whole issue of writing for now, since it seems my point was wholly lost. Re: complex activity outside of Africa, my point was not that there wasn't any Eurasian culture or language prior to 17,000 BCE, but rather that since there was complex culture in Eurasia prior to 17,000 BCE, we can surmise that there was also language. If so, then any migration from Africa is not bringing language into a vacuum, and as such, attempting to reconstruct the ur-language of these African migrants of 17,000 BCE based on Eurasian languages, with no knowledge of the other contemporaneous languages of Eurasia or of how the African ur-language interacted with these other languages, is a fool's errand.
Your w:User:Ivadon/Thule page is even weirder, as you appear to be lumping in South America and Australia into this mix. There is scattered evidence, albeit still controversial, that South America may have had human migrants as early as 30,000 BCE. Less controversial is the theory that Australia was settled 40,000 BCE. Your list specifically mentions Tasmania, settled around the same time. How would either of these populations have been affected by an African exodus to Eurasia in 17,000 BCE? How could these other languages possibly have any relation to this African ur-language? Meanwhile, your list also includes Hawaii and New Zealand, only settled some 1,000-1,200 years ago, far too recent for these specific languages to be of much use in reconstructing the African ur-language of 17,000 BCE. To do any serious historical linguistic research, you would have to look at the reconstructed Polynesian proto-languages, which trace back to the area around Taiwan.
Your list also includes China and Japan... ???
I'm also puzzled why you call this the “Thule civilisation”. Modern research does recognize a Thule culture, but that refers to the Thule people of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska, ancestors to today's Inuit. What is more, the Thule culture only dates back to roughly 200 BCE. The term Thule itself has variously referred to Norway, Iceland, and Greenland, with a general sense of “somewhere far away to the north”. This makes “Thule” an odd name to choose for some purported global cultural ancestor, especially when you're talking about east-west migration with origins in Africa.
If you are interested in reconstructing proto-Afroasiatic, the only part of Eurasia that might be relevant is the Mediterranean and the Middle East -- i.e. those areas speaking Afro-Asiatic languages, like Berber or Arabic or Hebrew. Not much else has anything to do with proto-Afroasiatic. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 19:50, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

"The reconstructions are grounded on an intricate system of sound shifts that I've elaborated in a couple weeks of most intensive study." This made my day :D Kolmiel (talk) 15:52, 3 December 2015 (UTC)

"Lent Gascon" (Occitan? -> Basque)

Discussion moved from Wiktionary:Tea room/2015/November#"Lent Gascon" (Occitan? -> Basque).

In the Basque etymology of arrano, there is "Lent Gascon". Is it all right? I see from Wikipedia that w:Gascon language is a dialect of Occitan. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 22:51, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

I suspect someone is trying to say "borrowed from Gascon" and is confusing borrow and lend. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 06:52, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
No, this was Torvalu4- they do tend to overconfidence in rather tenuous etymologies at times, but they know their terminology. I'm guessing that they were working off of heavily abbreviated notes and forgot to completely expand them. Given that the etymology refers to Proto-Basque, I think the idea is that it was lent to Gascon. That may not be the best description though, since Gascon is well known to have a substantial Basque substrate- it could be retained/inherited. Chuck Entz (talk) 08:34, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
I've moved to descendants, no sign of it on the Occitan Wikipedia but it's a small Wikipedia. Renard Migrant (talk) 10:38, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
I might just delete it. I've found voltre for vulture but not arrian. No entry here for example. Maybe delete it and add it back of course if sourced. Renard Migrant (talk) 10:47, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

English terms replaced by Latin

I was doing some personal research about English term that have been replaced by a new Latin term (or French derivation of it), but I found it a bit difficult. I thought that it might be useful to have it as a new category. What do you people think? PS: sorry if this is the wrong section to discuss this

Seems like it might be a good idea. Were you thinking of a category of the native words that have been replaced or a category of the Latinate words that have done the replacing? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:57, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
The only thing I find you might have some difficulty with in this endeavour is finding Modern English words to fill it: this might be better titled "Old/Middle English words replaced by Latin/French", as the process of replacement of words from Latin/French has largely ceased :( Leasnam (talk) 21:07, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Strictly speaking, perhaps, but a lot of technical and pseudo-technical terms are coined from Latin using formation rules that imitate the historical changes that occurred in the passage of real Latin terms into English. Resembling Latin can be a real plus if your goal is to impress someone rather than communicate with them: words such as affirmative and utilize really have no other purpose, not to mention partial cases such as demonstrate vs. show. And then there are Latinate terms used to avoid taboos, such as penis, vagina, pudenda, urinate/micturate, defecate, feces, copulate etc., not all of which go back to Old/Middle English. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:27, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
Hi Aɴɢʀ, I was thinking of doing it for common words like "color", "question" and "magic", instead of the scientific/technical lexicon. (8mike (talk) 16:22, 20 November 2015 (UTC))
But do you want the category to list terms like color, question, and magic, or do you want it to list terms like blee, frain, and dwimmer? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 16:34, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
I like the idea, but I’d rather see it in an appendix instead of a category. — Ungoliant (falai) 16:43, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
I think the first group is what most users would find more helpful under a category, even though it would nt be called "English terms replaced by Latin" but more like "English innovative terms", or something like that. (8mike (talk) 16:49, 20 November 2015 (UTC))
A list of English terms derived from Latin (displacing a native Germanic term) will be larger than a list of English terms derived from Germanic (which have been displaced by a Latin loan), because a lot of displaced terms died out (possibly including frain, see RFV). So, categorizing or listing question seems more practical than listing frain, unless (as Leasnam notes) you make a list of Middle English. - -sche (discuss) 23:23, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
We could expand the Category to include English words that are no longer extant, because native vocabulary not only gave way to Latin, but in many cases also to a Norse term, and even other native terms through the natural process of attrition. We want to balance this out, as a great majority of Latinate terms that came into English are themselves obsolete (nobody uses expede or mundation anymore), or are being kept alive only on life support, or were eclipsed by other Latinate terms (e.g. face (from French) displaced vis (face) (also from French)). We tend to forget this (or turn a blind eye to this) as well. Leasnam (talk) 17:10, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Good point. That speaks in favour of an appendix: a category should be restricted to one language, while an appendix could have columns comparing the native term (whether it made it into English or died in Middle English) to the borrowed term (likewise). On the other hand, a category is more maintainable, since adding entries to it only entails updating entries themselves (which people think to do), whereas an appendix has to be updated separately (which people forget to do; cf Appendix:English terms of Native American origin which I have considered turning into a category-directory). But back on the first hand, an appendix is easier to look over (the info on the native term and the borrowed term is all in one place, whereas in a category you'd have to click on each page to find out what term replaced it or was replaced by it). - -sche (discuss) 18:53, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Nice. This reminds me of a few Wikipedia articles I read some time ago: w:Linguistic purism in English, w:List of Germanic and Latinate equivalents in English, w:Uncleftish Beholding. I'd really like to see these "real" English words more often, because even though they're opaque for Romance languages speakers like me, they're so much more interesting to learn. -Fsojic (talk) 14:38, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Other European languages have reinforced native word-stocks in order to get a grip on who they are. French re-Latinised itself during the Middle Ages under threat of being too "germanised", Romanian is currently borrowing heavily from French and Italian in an effort to move away from Slavic incursions, German and Dutch too went through phases of internal word formation. Only English and Italian seem to be the odd ones out. English continues to borrow from everyone else, and Italian borrows everything from English ;) Leasnam (talk) 16:43, 24 November 2015 (UTC)


Someone seems to have added their own theory on the etymology of this word, which is not conformant with our usual styles for etymologies. Anyone want to take a look? This, that and the other (talk) 05:50, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

I agree, what has written is folk etymology. etymonline give this etymology, and it is the one that I trust:
1762, hollo-ballo (with many variant spellings) "uproar, racket, noisy commotion," chiefly in northern England and Scottish, perhaps a rhyming reduplication of hollo (see hello). Bartlett ("Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848) has it as hellabaloo "riotous noise; confusion," and says it is provincial in England. —Stephen (Talk) 13:33, 20 November 2015 (UTC)


I tried to figure out the derivation of this word, but couldn't finish what I started; can anyone help? This, that and the other (talk) 10:27, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

Maybe the second part is βάλλω (bállō, throw) (8mike (talk) 11:00, 22 November 2015 (UTC))
Yes, it is. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:09, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

French hanter

The etymology section says that it's "more likely" from Gothic than Old Norse. However, the Trésor Informatisé (see lemma) says specifically that it's Old Norse and that it spread from Normandy southward. Now, this source is not without fault. But what reason is there to derive it from Gothic? It's first attested in the 1120ies, so the reason can't be old age. Kolmiel (talk) 22:46, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

I think the reasoning behind it lies solely in the vowel: it's difficult to explain the Norse ei becoming a... Leasnam (talk) 23:14, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
It's even more difficult to explain how Old French came in contact with Gothic. The vowel could be from Old English, though Old French borrowings from Old English must be few and far between. The usual Germanic source for French words is Frankish, but I don't know what the PGmc. ai diphthong became in Frankish. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 13:32, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, the Germanic word is not attested in continental West Germanic (except for a word heimsen in German and late MHG that might be a cognate, but is unattested before the 14th century). Therefore Frankish can safely be ruled out, or at least it hasn't been considered by any of the sources at my disposal. French was of course in contact with Gothic, but that was in the south and significantly earlier. So if hanter became manifest in the north in the 12th century, it can hardly be Gothic. As to the vocalism: Yes, it may be Old English. But even if it's Old Norse, I see no problem whatsoever. The Old Norse -ei- might have been pronounced somewhat towards [æɪ̯] in some dialects. And French -en- and -an- have now merged, so they were probably not too distinct in the 12th century. But be that as it may: We can't just say: Oh, the vowel looks a bit like XY, let's say that's the source. We must look at from what region and what time it really is. That means we need sources. If there are no sources contradicting the Trésor, which clearly states that it spread from Normandy, then it can only be Old Norse or Old English, but not Gothic. Kolmiel (talk) 18:12, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, the Gothic word isn't attested either. At least, nothing containing the stem haimat- can be found at oldwikisource:Bible, Gothic, Ulfila or at or at And even attested Gothic is the language of Wulfila, not the language of the Visigoths and Ostrogoths who were in France, about which we know nothing. So, all the more reason to believe it's from Norse. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 19:01, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
What about the meanings? Old Norse heimta meant "to bring to one's home; to fetch (a wife or bride); draw; pull" -- nothing there meaning "to dwell or inhabit". Old English hāmettan, on the other hand, meant both "to house; domicile" and "to bring home". How could the Old French word pick up its meaning of "to frequent, abide" from the Norse word? Could this word have been brought to France with the English Normans? Timewise, it makes sense. 12th c is rather late for it to be a direct Norse borrowing... To me, it's looking more and more like an English loan than an Old Norse one Leasnam (talk) 19:10, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that's perfectly plausible. Old English is a possibility alongside Old Norse. But this is already beyond my point. We can give both as a possible source: but we should get out the Gothic. There's no justification for it, seemingly. Kolmiel (talk) 22:37, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Proto-Slavic *osoba

Could I have more details about this word: *osoba (whence Russian особа (osoba), etc.)? I didn't find it in Derksen's dictionary. Is it Indo-European? --Fsojic (talk) 13:22, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Here are the cognates from Vasmer:
He mentions that it is traditionally derived as *o + *sobě/*sebě, and lists external cognates such as Sanskrit सभा (sabhā́, gathering of a rural community), Gothic sibja (sibja) and OHG sippa/sippea (family; kin), and potentially Latin Sabīnī (Sabines) and Suēbī, and OHG Swābā (Swabians). --WikiTiki89 15:51, 24 November 2015 (UTC)


Where did these come from? Online Etymology Dictionary gives a route via Latin Turcomannus, from the Persian Turkman, while Wikipedia gives an equally plausible route via the Turkish Türkmen, from Sodgian Turkmen/Turkmyn. I suppose nothing stops both roots from having been independently imported into English, but it's an odd coincidence that they happen to coincide with the Germanic man/men umlaut. Smurrayinchester (talk) 15:31, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

It seems that Turkmen (as a singular) did not come directly from Turkish, but as a variant of Turkman (which came from the Persian, whether or not through Latin), whose spelling was affected by Russian Туркме́н (Turkmén). Turkmen as a plural of Turkman, was probably directly influenced by English man and men, and has nothing to do with the Turkish or Russian spellings. --WikiTiki89 18:57, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Inherited or derived term?

I'm unsure about the official Wiktionary policy about this. When we trace a particular word's etymology to a parent language or languages, should we call it an inherited term or derived term in all instances.. or should these two categories coexist? I'm unaware which one is being replaced by which and what should I do when I work on etymology section of words. I noticed some bots changing etymologies from derived to inherited, though --ReordCræft (talk) 12:39, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Derivation is more general and encompasses inheritance (= derivation from one of its parent languages, like Old Georgian for Georgian). So inheritance is more specific, therefore, contains more information, therefore, you should use that whenever possible.--DixtosaBOT (talk) 13:03, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I'd also argue that there's a further distinction between inheritance and derivation, in that inheritance is a natural process where a word remains in use having perhaps undergone standard sound changes and spelling changes, while derivation also covers the more artificial case where an obsolete word is dredged back up (dwimmer/dweomer completely died out until Tolkien revived them – the words are derived from Old English, but probably not inherited from it. A sillier example: Modern Greek τηλέφωνο (tiléfono) is derived from Ancient Greek, but certainly not inherited!). Smurrayinchester (talk) 16:46, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
    • The modern Romance languages have borrowed a lot of words from Latin, in addition to the ones they inherited. Sometimes there are doublets, e.g. French légal, which is borrowed, and loyal, which is inherited. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:32, 25 November 2015 (UTC)


I've been trying to add a full etymology for Gymnobelideus (gymno- + Belideus), but I can only find web sources with conflicting information. I couldn't find an etymology in the original paper describing Belideus. So, some fact checking:

  • Is belideus related to any Latin word for dart or arrow?
  • Following Latin conventions, could belideus be considered a diminutive form of petaurus?
  • petaurus appears to be related to the word petaurista (acrobat, tight-rope walker, tumbler, vaulter, rope-dancer) Does it also mean glider? Or is that a new Latin interpretation? Or is it said to mean "glider" because it is a genus of gliders?
  • What does πεταυριστής (petauristḗs) or πετᾶσθαι (petâsthai) mean?

Cheers. —Pengo (talk) 01:21, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

According to Woodehouse βελος (belos) is a rare word for "arrow". LSJ have a full entry showing several closely related definitions, with a central meaning of "missile", and fairly frequent usage, presumably in senses other than "arrow". It is used in many combinations. iaspideus (of the jasper kind) (not common) and lapideus (made/full of stone, stony) are the only two words in Lewis and Short with the ending. βελονοειδής (belonoeidḗs, needle-shaped) is related. DCDuring TALK 13:24, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

The word "belideus" is etymologically completely unrelated to "petaurus". The word βέλος (bélos) does mean a missile or an arrow, and is also used as an adjective to refer metaphorically to speeding to a target like a missile. There are a few Ancient Greek words ending in -ίδεος, which looks like it might have the connotation of being derived from or of the thing referred to by the unsuffixed word. Certainly ἀδελφιδέος (adelphidéos, nephew) and ἀδελφός (adelphós, son of the same mother)/ἀδελφή (adelphḗ, daughter of the same mother) seem to show that relationship. Petaurus is probably related to petaurista, which is derived from an alternative form of πετευριστήρ (peteuristḗr, tumbler, acrobat) (all of the πέτευρ- words seem to have πέταυρ- variants), which apparently comes from πέτευρον (péteuron, perch, springboard), which probably comes from πέτομαι (pétomai, I fly).
The important thing to remember here is that taxonomic names are generally coined, not derived. That means that a taxonomist creates something new and makes it conform to Latin grammar and phonotactics. Older names such as this one are mostly assembled from Ancient Greek and Latin elements, but they're still creative inventions that may not follow any known derivational rules. I think the best you can do is say something along the lines of: "coined by George Robert Waterhouse, probably from Ancient Greek βέλος (bélos, missile, arrow), based on the idea of something that swiftly moves through the air". You would need to look at other taxonomic names or scientific terms ending in -ideus/-idea/-ideon (excluding -oideus/-oidea/-oideon, which is different) to see what it means in a modern scientific Latin context. If, as I suspect, it has its own meaning that's different from anything in Ancient Greek or Latin, that could be added to the etymology. Chuck Entz (talk) 19:38, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
@DCDuring, Chuck Entz: Thanks very much for the analysis. If you're wondering why I was asking about the connection to "petaurus", one of the few sources I could find which attempted an etymology of a related coinage said this:
Hemibelideus literally translates as "half-glider" ('belideus' being a diminutive form of Petaurus, meaning "glider"). ” —ADW
Perhaps they meant "diminutive form" in the sense that a kitten is a diminutive form of a cat, although the use of quotation marks suggests they meant otherwise. I've found a better reference now which matches the Greek, so I've had another go at etymologizing Belideus and Gymnobelideus, which I've fixed up though they can always be more improved. I tried searching the Catalogue of Life for *ideus, which returns a huge number of genera. I searched for etymologies for a bunch of these, but the suffix/word ending has not been included in any I've found, so I might just leave it out of the etymology for now. —Pengo (talk) 02:34, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

Scottish Gaelic "os-bhiolait" from English?

In the etymology of os-bhiolait, it says:

"os- +‎ violet"

I take it the "bhiolait" part comes from English "violet"? --Daniel Carrero (talk) 02:30, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

Looks like. And directly from English, and recently at that, as there is no sign of this borrowing in any Irish source, nor in Dwelly/am Faclair beag.
Because of Gaelic grammar, I would expect from this that the lemma would be biolait, unless demonstrated otherwise (which, as a borrowing, it may well be). --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 02:55, 30 November 2015 (UTC)