There are several theories on the origin of this word. According to some, it has the same origin as one: Proto-Baltic *winyas, from Proto-Indo-European *óynos, *éynos, *ínos (possibly from *h₁ey-, *ey-, *i- (“that; he”)), made into a yo-stem and with an extra initial w-.
Others suggest a connection with Old Prussian winna (“outside”) (possibly < *winnā < *winnān), from wins (“air (outside)”), derived from a possible Proto-Baltic *vina-.
A more recent suggestion is that viņš results from a compound of *vinE (E = conditioned vowel) + an old jis, is (“there, he”) (compare Lithuanian jis (“he”)), with *vinE corresponding to Old Prussian winna and to Old Church Slavonic вънѣ (vŭně, “outside”) (compare Russian вне (vne, “outside”)). From *vin-(j)is > viņš, and from *vin-(j)i > *viņi > viņa, by analogy with feminine a-stems (presumably to prevent confusion with the third person masculine plural viņi). The dialectal (Pilda Latgalian) forms veńìs (masc.), veńei (fem.) lends this theory support by proving the other hypotheses unlikely. Furthermore the case endings bear significant resemblance to the Latgalian and Lithuanian forms, which unless etymological related also appears unlikely.
viņš (personal, 3rd person singular masculine) (fem. viņa, masc. pl. viņi, fem. pl. viņas)
- he; third person pronoun, referring to someone other than the speaker or addressee
- ienāca lektors, viņu saņēma aplausiem ― the lecturer came in, (the audience) received him with applause
- to sacīja viņa tēvs ― his father said that
- Blaumanis aizbrauca uz Valmieru; tur notika “Indrānu” izrāde, kurā arī viņam pašam bija loma ― Blaumanis went to Valmiera; there was the “Indrāni” show, in which he himself had (= played) a part
- his (in the genitive, as part of certain titles)
- viņa eminence, majestāte, augstība ― his eminence, majesty, highness
- he (referring to masculine animals, objects, etc.)
- sunim nezin kas uznācis, sāka pa vakariem gaudot, tā ka vajadzēja aizvest uz riju un ieslodzīt pelavu pūnītē, tur viņš gan vaimanāja vēl skaļāk ― the dog didn't know what come up, began to howl in the evening, so that it was necessary to take him to the barn and lock him up, (and) there he howled even louder
- (usually as a non-nominative determiner) that, the other (one); distal demonstrative
- viņā malā, galā, puse ― on the other bank, end, side
- aiziet līdz viņam stūriem ― to go up to that, the other corner
- viņās dienās ― in those days (= in earlier days, in the past)
- viņos laikos ― in those times (= in old, ancient times)
- te pa ceļu no viņas puses kāds brauc ― here on the road someone is going (by) from the other side
- ^ Karulis, Konstantīns (1992), “viņš”, in Latviešu Etimoloģijas Vārdnīca (in Latvian), Rīga: AVOTS, →ISBN