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Old High GermanEdit


Compared to Gothic ๐Œฐ๐Œน๐‚๐Œบ๐Œฝ๐Œน๐Œธ๐Œฐ (airkniรพa) (glossing Latin ingenuitas, from a supposed *๐Œฐ๐Œน๐‚๐Œบ๐Œฝ๐ƒ (*airkns, โ€œgenuine, true; holyโ€) (in ๐Œฟ๐Œฝ๐Œฐ๐Œน๐‚๐Œบ๐Œฝ๐ƒ (unairkns, โ€œunholy, impureโ€)), and Old English eorcnanstan (โ€œprecious stone, gemโ€) (see eorcnan, erce). An archaic Germanic word from the sacral sphere. Its original meaning is difficult to reconstruct as it belonged to the pagan religious vocabulary obscured after Christianization.

Pokorny (1959) tentatively groups the word with Proto-Indo-European *hโ‚‚erวต- (โ€œglittering, whiteโ€) (compare Ancient Greek แผ€ฯฮณฯŒฯ‚ (argรณs), Latin argentum), but Gothic ๐Œฐ๐‚๐Œบ- (ark-) may also be an early loan of (แผ€ฯฯ‡ฮน- (arkhi-, โ€œarchi-โ€)), compare Ulfilan ๐Œฐ๐‚๐Œบ๐Œฐ๐Œฒ๐Œฒ๐Œน๐Œป๐Œฟ๐ƒ (arkaggilus) for archangelus.



  1. sublime, chief, special, egregious, genuine, true (?)
    • der erchano sangheri (=egregius psaltes, Isaiah 4:2)
    • ercna euua (=certa lege Isaiah 2:1)
    • allero specierum erchenosta (=speciem specialissimam)
    • Also ih tes mennisken boteh einen toten mennisken heizo, nals nicht erchenen mennisken (Notker trans. Boethius 5[1] = Nam uti cadauer hominem mortuum dixeris, simpliciter uero hominem appellare non possis "For though you might call a cadaver 'a dead man', you cannot just simply call it 'a man' [viz. it is not genuinely a man].")

Derived termsEdit


  • German: Erchtag (โ€œTuesdayโ€) (archaic, Bavarian)


  • Eberhard Gottlieb Graff, Hans Ferdinand Massmann, Althochdeutscher Sprachschatz, oder, Wรถrterbuch der althochdeutschen Sprache, 1834, p. 468.
  • Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie (1835, trans. Stallybrass 1888), 113; 182โ€”185.
  • Bopp, Comparative Grammar (1815, trans. Eastwick 1862), p. 1285.
  • Hjalmar Falk, Alf Torp, Wortschatz der germanischen Spracheinheit, part 3, 5th ed., Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979, ISBN 9783525264058, p. 26.
  • Lorenz Diefenbach, Vergleichendes Wรถrterbuch der gotischen Sprache, J. Baer, 1851 p. 23.