Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby phlip » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:36 pm UTC

I came across an interesting one yesterday...
etymonline wrote:Australia
17c., from L. Terra Australis (16c.), from australis "southern," from auster "south wind," metaphorically extended to "south," but based on PIE word for "east," probably on false assumption about the orientation of Italy.

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enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Izzhov » Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:02 am UTC

I think this one is interesting:
rival (n.)
1577, from L. rivalis "a rival," originally, "one who uses the same stream" (or "one on the opposite side of the stream"), from rivus "brook" (see rivulet). The notion is of the competitiveness of neighbors. The verb is first attested 1605.

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Felstaff » Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:25 am UTC

phlip wrote:I came across an interesting one yesterday...
etymonline wrote:Australia
17c., from L. Terra Australis (16c.), from australis "southern," from auster "south wind," metaphorically extended to "south," but based on PIE word for "east," probably on false assumption about the orientation of Italy.


I saw auster, and immediately thought austere, which etymonline says comes from the Latin austerus, meaning harsh, dry. I guess Australia was just named after the fact it's relatively far south and has harsh, dry wind.

England's a lot easier: Land of the Angles.
America: Some Italian dude called Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512), and the subsequent Latinisation of his name.
Canada: said to be a Latinised form of a word for "village" in an extinct Iroquoian language
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby bumpgrrl » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:49 pm UTC

Felstaff wrote:Canada: said to be a Latinised form of a word for "village" in an extinct Iroquoian language


Much like Kanata, the name of a small village in the Ottawa Valley region of Ontario.
(Fascinatingly, there are a *lot* of Canadian place names that have aborginal language origins.)

Since it's this weekend, and the Australia/Auster info reminded me, I would like to point out that Easter is my favourite "Christian" holiday. For all that the death and resurrection of Christ is celebrated (as well as the Jewish Passover), sooooo many of the popular symbols of the holiday weekend are directly related to the original festival, which the modern name derives from:

[OE. éastre wk. fem. = OHG. ôstara; more freq. in plural éastron, corresponding to OHG. ôstoron (MHG., mod.G. ostern pl.); the strong forms occas. appearing seem to have been derived from the combining form éastor-. Bæda Temp. Rat. xv. derives the word from Eostre (Northumb. spelling of Éastre), the name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox; her name (:{em}OTeut. *austrôn- cogn. w. Skr. usr{amac} dawn; see EAST) shows that she was originally the dawn-goddess.]
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby überRegenbogen » Sat Apr 05, 2008 6:56 am UTC

Sour Apple wrote:whether or not things were invented to be vulgar, their connotations can turn that way. I mean, it's all about the way the language of a society evolves... take "gay" for example. The latest generation, with whom I am ashamed to associate, says, "That's gay!" to insult the actions of another person. Gay originally started out meaning happy. It wasn't inserted into English, however, long ago, for the sake of insulting people-- it just ended up that way.


I'm reminded of a scene in a Three's Company episode. [Yeah, i watched it; the girls had nice legs!] Jack is asked "You're gay?", to which he replies "Not always; sometimes i'm quite depressed."

Meanwhile, "shit" was once a perfectly polite word. "Crap" still is, for the most part. Yet, whilst they mean exactly that same thing, in almost every context, and can be directly interchanged, one is forbidden, and the other is not. Totally arbitrary.

have a dark room with various heavy objects scattered around, then take this person and ask him to walk across the room in bare feet. Then we could really see what he thought about swearwords...

Bwahahahah! [stump] Schiße!
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Felstaff » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:51 am UTC

überRegenbogen wrote:Meanwhile, "shit" was once a perfectly polite word. "Crap" still is, for the most part. Yet, whilst they mean exactly that same thing, in almost every context, and can be directly interchanged, one is forbidden, and the other is not. Totally arbitrary.


Really? I never would've thought shit would be used as anything but a vulgarity. Maybe it was a polite way to describe fæces, once. But has there ever been a polite way? I wouldn't say 'fæcal matter' in polite conversation at a dinner party, even if it is the most scientific way to describe it, and also pertinent to the conversation.

'Oh, Mr. Darcy! You are such a delightful cad in your praises!'
'Miss Huffington-Smythe, I do declare, your dress is the same colour as my last defecation!'
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Bobber » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:25 pm UTC

Felstaff wrote:
überRegenbogen wrote:Meanwhile, "shit" was once a perfectly polite word. "Crap" still is, for the most part. Yet, whilst they mean exactly that same thing, in almost every context, and can be directly interchanged, one is forbidden, and the other is not. Totally arbitrary.


Really? I never would've thought shit would be used as anything but a vulgarity. Maybe it was a polite way to describe fæces, once. But has there ever been a polite way? I wouldn't say 'fæcal matter' in polite conversation at a dinner party, even if it is the most scientific way to describe it, and also pertinent to the conversation.

'Oh, Mr. Darcy! You are such a delightful cad in your praises!'
'Miss Huffington-Smythe, I do declare, your dress is the same colour as my last defecation!'


I don't thank that many people would actually say fæcal matter, for that matter (pun totally intended).
Most people I know say fecal. Too bad, really. "æ" owns. And we invented it. Kind of.
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby überRegenbogen » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:31 am UTC

Felstaff wrote:I never would've thought shit would be used as anything but a vulgarity. Maybe it was a polite way to describe fæces, once. But has there ever been a polite way? I wouldn't say 'fæcal matter' in polite conversation at a dinner party, even if it is the most scientific way to describe it, and also pertinent to the conversation.

So i gather. It was no worse than 'crap' or 'poop'.

It was also, at one time, normal practice to dump the contents of one's chamber pot out of the window, into the street. It would be odd to be hung up about shit and piss, in such a world.
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby bumpgrrl » Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:35 pm UTC

Felstaff wrote:It was also, at one time, normal practice to dump the contents of one's chamber pot out of the window, into the street. It would be odd to be hung up about shit and piss, in such a world.

Hah - true that. I do believe the standard/neutral lever France-French word for urinate (Engligh standard/neutral) is still 'pisser'. It was apparently the Victorians who decided all these single syllable words were too bodily and direct, and campaigned to replace them with more sophisticated and distancing technical-sounding words.

Thus, cunt became vagina,
piss became urinate,
shit became defecate,
fuck became fornicate.

(although blast me if I can find a reference to the above. I just remember discussing it in one of my language/linguistics classes at uni.)
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Simbera » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:49 pm UTC

^ I had heard that fuck was originally an acronym standing for Fornicate Under Carnal Knowledge, or some such. So it seems odd that fornicate came later than fuck. Unless a. it was a backronym or b. the person who said that was full of faeces.

BTW - I find faec (pronounced 'feek') to be a pretty awesome slang word that is on the same level as 'crap' or 'poop'. Am I the only one?

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby bumpgrrl » Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:10 pm UTC

Simbera wrote:^ I had heard that fuck was originally an acronym standing for Fornicate Under Carnal Knowledge, or some such. So it seems odd that fornicate came later than fuck. Unless a. it was a backronym or b. the person who said that was full of faeces.


yup - basically, both:


[Prob. cognate with Dutch fokken to mock (15th cent.), to strike (1591), to fool, gull (1623), to beget children (1637), to have sexual intercourse with (1657), to grow, cultivate (1772), Norwegian regional fukka to copulate, Swedish regional fokka to copulate (cf. Swedish regional fock penis), further etymology uncertain: perh. < an Indo-European root meaning ‘to strike’ also shown by classical Latin pugnus fist (see PUGNACIOUS adj.). Perh. cf. Old Icelandic fjúka to be driven on, tossed by the wind, feykja to blow, drive away, Middle High German fochen to hiss, to blow. Perh. cf. also Middle High German ficken to rub, early modern German ficken to rub, itch, scratch, German ficken to have sexual intercourse with (1558), German regional ficken to rub, to make short fast movements, to hit with rods, although the exact nature of any relationship is unclear.
...
Many alternative theories have been suggested as to the origin of this word. Explanations as an acronym are often suggested, but are obviously much later rationalizations.

(from my very good friend the complete Oxford English Dictionary)
(incidentally, the date charts for fuck are fascinating - for sexual intercourse it was very common in the 1500s, and all our "fuck you" "fuck me" style expressions don't even appear until the 1900s)
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby The Finn » Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:28 pm UTC

Number3Pencils wrote:
Thousand wrote:Bill Bryson lied to me!? :( (admittedly the book was out of date by more than 10 years and still mentioning the Soviet Union, but oh well)


That book would be excellent if not for the number of inaccuracies and flat-out wrong things in it. I'm sure the vast majority of it is true, but I find all sorts of little (and somewhat big) things. There's the sparrow-grass. There's also the doubtful treatment of the runic letters eth and thorn (ð and þ). The þ is rendered variously as a correct þ but in the wrong font, a p, and even as a Greek rho (ρ). The ð pops up only once or twice, always as a Greek delta (δ). My favorite part, though, was where he was talking about swearing, and said that the Finns, lacking any swear words, oddly started using "ravintolassa", which means "in the restaurant". The restaurant part is right, but it's not used as a swear word (at least, a forum full of Finns I found* had never heard of it), and the Finns have at least one swear word that I know of, perkele, and I'm sure a full set of others too. I'm sure a dedicated scholar could point out several pretty looming mistakes in every chapter. That's just what I saw as a layman with a solid background in languages.

*On the forum full of Finns I found, a Finn said, "Finns find foreigners funny." Fun!


Joka pieremättä kusee, se naimatta kuolee. - Piss without farting, die without {having engaged in fornication}.

There are plenty of others. Spoken Finnish has a great deal many.

There's even a Wiktionary category: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:fi:Vulgarities

Written Finnish - until the advent of the twentieth century - failed to have many mentions of "vulgar" or swear words because Written (standard) Finnish was invented specifically to bring the Protestant Bible to Finland in the sixteenth century and is a constructed medium that is relegated almost entirely to academia, the arts, and literature. Speaking Written (standard) Finnish out loud is somewhat akin to experiencing the following:

Oh! Ye gentle readers, attend thee to my words! The language-what-we-collectively-have-written unwieldy is, when employed for conversational habits! Therefore I employ-with-deep-heart-felt-feelings-persuasion to request-most-sincerely that we consider this distress, and call to council all concerned.

Bleah.

My favorite is "Helvete", Hell. This explanation I sometimes use to justify a standing decision against using a particular - particularly ugly (se on perkeleen ruma!) - font.

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Mr Mukura » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:59 am UTC

Yeah about the Stewart etymology...

Check this out (from) : http://www.word-detective.com/back-a2.html


I Sty.

Dear Evan: While putting together a talk on stewardship for my church recently, I stumbled upon what I believe to be the etymology of the word "steward." Its first syllable seems to derive from an Anglo-Saxon word that is represented in modern English by our word "sty," as in "This bedroom looks like a pig sty." Is this correct ? -- Michael Murley, via the Internet.

That's a very interesting question, and please bear with me as I take a somewhat oblique tack in answering it. I think that there must be, buried somewhere in the genetic stew of all human beings, a gene for rebelliousness. Something in all of us loves to see the mighty brought low. The possibility that a word ("steward") denoting qualities of responsibility, probity, sobriety and good judgment might have its roots in a raucous, filthy pig sty piques our interest because it offers the same sort of thrill we get from seeing a pompous politician slip on a banana peel, whether real or figurative. I am not, by the way, even remotely related to Dick Morris.

I mention our collective fondness for this game of linguistic "gotcha" because you are not the first person to notice the amusing convergence of "steward" and "sty." At first glance, the connection seems inarguable -- "steward" comes from the Old English "stiweard," which is a combination of "sti" or "stig," meaning "sty," and "weard," meaning "keeper" or "ward." Certainly seems to add up to "guy in charge of the pigsty," doesn't it? But the Oxford English Dictionary takes a rather stern tone in dismissing that notion: "...there is no ground for the assumption that 'steward' originally meant 'keeper of the pig sties.'" Underlying the OED's grumpy certainty is the fact that "stig" or "sti" also meant "hall" in Old English. The "stiweard" in those days was the man in charge of running the household affairs of the nobility, a sort of general manager of the manor or castle, and a very powerful man. Thus, a "steward" may or may not live up to his or her responsibilities in a given case, but the word itself is above reproach.


And while we are at it, just bear in mind that the Stewarts (Scottish) ruled England for some time, so if you still believe it to mean keeper of pigs, well then what does that say?

Have a read of this if you still dont get it : http://www.clanstewart.org/History/ClanHistory.asp

You can always do your own googling to help you make up your own mind. Oh, and I just read some thread rule about quoting for the sake of the truth... it's not about that at all, it's about pride, the truth has very little to do with anything these days, no I'd say plain and simple its about boasting a legacy of dominance, which although it may have come crashing to the ground around the time of great industrial growth, was none the less uh... epic. And as a 'keeper' of uh... the english, it is my duty to rant and remind that not only do the good folk of the mighty northern tribes give to the world fine liquor, outrageous costumes, golf, and a great source of dialect based comedy... it is my duty to rant and rave so that in future generations to come, that uh... yeah... the Queens English was pretty much uh... owned, co-developed, and marketed to the masses around the globe by a bunch of whisky drinking caretakers, it's all there in the King James Bible for you to read, I swear on my mothers grave.. and old Liz Mk II rocks the tartan like she listens to The Sex Pistols too.

Lots of love from your friend Mr Mukura (AKA Nigel James Stewart) :shock:

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby shivasprogeny » Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:19 am UTC

Assassin has a cool etymology.

In Arabic some 700 years ago hashshasin meant literally someone who ate hashish. How it came to mean killer is an interesting story.

In the 3th century, a fringe group of Muslims began to execute people of high profile. In order to recruit killers, the leaders used hashish and other worldly pleasures to draw young boys into the group. And it's assumed that they would often get high before going out on a kill. So, you can now see how we got our modern "assassin."

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Felstaff » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:02 pm UTC

I heard it was named after followers of Al-Hassan III of Alamut.

Still the hash-rituals of the Hashshashiyyin are the cooler description.

They would hire young, volatile Muslims into their sect, get them stoned, then take them to a beautiful garden with über-hot Arab virgins once all their cognitive faculties had faded to mush, and tell them it was paradise, waiting for them. They'd be fed sweet, sweet, wine, hash and get all the slap 'n' tickle they could handle under extreme stonage. When they woke up stone sober the next day, the leaders said that this paradise would be waiting for them if they did the bidding of the Hashashin (i.e. go assassinate people). These young hotheaded fundamentalists would do anything to get a taste of that hash-garden again, so would go to the ends of the earth to eliminate their target, deluded into thinking their reward in paradise was waiting for them.

Pretty cool, huh. Manipulative, but cool nonetheless. And not so far removed from the practises of unscrupulous people in power today.
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby überRegenbogen » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:19 pm UTC

Simbera wrote:I had heard that fuck was originally an acronym standing for Fornicate Under Carnal Knowledge, or some such. So it seems odd that fornicate came later than fuck. Unless a. it was a backronym or b. the person who said that was full of faeces.


Indeed, there is no real evidence that 'fuck' was ever an acronym for anything. the likes of 'Fornication Under Consent of the King' and 'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge' are just silly little jokes. :)
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby ZLVT » Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:36 pm UTC

bumpgrrl wrote:

[Prob. cognate with Dutch fokken to mock (15th cent.), to strike (1591), to fool, gull (1623), to beget children (1637), to have sexual intercourse with (1657), to grow, cultivate (1772), Norwegian regional fukka to copulate, Swedish regional fokka to copulate (cf. Swedish regional fock penis), further etymology uncertain: perh. < an Indo-European root meaning ‘to strike’ also shown by classical Latin pugnus fist (see PUGNACIOUS adj.). Perh. cf. Old Icelandic fjúka to be driven on, tossed by the wind, feykja to blow, drive away, Middle High German fochen to hiss, to blow. Perh. cf. also Middle High German ficken to rub, early modern German ficken to rub, itch, scratch, German ficken to have sexual intercourse with (1558), German regional ficken to rub, to make short fast movements, to hit with rods, although the exact nature of any relationship is unclear.
...
Many alternative theories have been suggested as to the origin of this word. Explanations as an acronym are often suggested, but are obviously much later rationalizations.

(from my very good friend the complete Oxford English Dictionary)
(incidentally, the date charts for fuck are fascinating - for sexual intercourse it was very common in the 1500s, and all our "fuck you" "fuck me" style expressions don't even appear until the 1900s)


I might add that "fokken"* is now Dutch for "breed" as in "Ik fok mijn eigen paarden" i.e. "I fok (breed) my own horses"
Where might I find your good friend the complete Oxford English Dictionary and how much is your friend willing to sell their services for? Also, what does it say about shit being an old acronym for "Store High In Transit"? Apparently back in the days of ships where it was important that either the fumes from the shit didn't pool in the lower deck or that shit not be exposed to low-lying potentially flamable vapours, shit needed to be held high up.

* Conjugation of "fokken"

Code: Select all

subj.  present past   P. Part. infinitive

ik     fok     fokte  gefokt   fokken
jij    fokt    fokte
hij    fokt    fokte
wij    fokken  fokten
jullie fokken  fokten
zij    fokken  fokten

Future takes infinitve preceded by the conjugated forms of "gaan" or "zullen". Imperfect past takes the past participle and conjugated from of "hebben"


felstaff wrote:They would hire young, volatile Muslims into their sect, get them stoned, then take them to a beautiful garden with über-hot Arab virgins once all their cognitive faculties had faded to mush, and tell them it was paradise, waiting for them. They'd be fed sweet, sweet, wine, hash and get all the slap 'n' tickle they could handle under extreme stonage. When they woke up stone sober the next day, the leaders said that this paradise would be waiting for them if they did the bidding of the Hashashin (i.e. go assassinate people). These young hotheaded fundamentalists would do anything to get a taste of that hash-garden again, so would go to the ends of the earth to eliminate their target, deluded into thinking their reward in paradise was waiting for them.

Pretty cool, huh. Manipulative, but cool nonetheless. And not so far removed from the practises of unscrupulous people in power today.


You know what, I think that would actually work on me :(. Pity the Mongols razed the Eagle's nest (the original Eagle's nest was I belive the hashashin's mountain top palace)
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby darktalon » Sun Apr 20, 2008 5:58 pm UTC

On "Fornication Under Consent of the King" etc., the general rule is that if a word is pre-20th century then it's almost certainly not derived from an acronym. Shit doesn't come from "Ship High In Transit" (my personal favourite folk etymology) either; if ever a bargeload of manure was marked Ship High In Transit it's because someone was having a laugh referencing an already long-existing term.

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What's the deal with yellow?

Postby idont_know12 » Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:17 pm UTC

This particular word has bothered me for a while, because almost every language has a completely different word for it. Yellow, gelb, amarillo, jaune, giallo, crocinus/croceus. Except for the last one, they're all vaguely similar, but not nearly as much as other words. Any idea why this particular word has so much variance amongst languages?

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Re: What's the deal with yellow?

Postby Robin S » Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:40 pm UTC

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the proto-Germanic word for yellow was gelwaz, from which English, German, Dutch, Icelandic and the Scandinavian languages derive their respective words for yellow. Most Romance languages derive their respective words for yellow from the Latin word galbinus (as opposed to crocinus), which is similar enough to gelwaz - considering Grimm's law - that I'd be willing to bet they share their etymology in an Indo-European common ancestor.

Amarillo comes from the Arabic anbari (cognate with "amber"), and since the Etymological Dictionary suggests this is likely to derive from the entirely separate Latin word amarus, it's quite possible that the apparent similarity to the other words is coincidental.
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Re: What's the deal with yellow?

Postby idont_know12 » Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:35 pm UTC

Oh. Thanks. :oops:

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby bumpgrrl » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:24 pm UTC

ZLVT wrote:Where might I find your good friend the complete Oxford English Dictionary and how much is your friend willing to sell their services for?


[url]oed.com[/url] I work on a university campus, which has a full subscription. check out libraries and such, because an individual's full subscription comes with a yearly price tag of $295. yeep!

that's an awesome bit on yellow, btw. My old puzzler was "horse" - which i eventually found out was Scandinavian.
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Re: What's the deal with yellow?

Postby goofy » Thu May 01, 2008 5:03 pm UTC

Robin S wrote:According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the proto-Germanic word for yellow was gelwaz, from which English, German, Dutch, Icelandic and the Scandinavian languages derive their respective words for yellow. Most Romance languages derive their respective words for yellow from the Latin word galbinus (as opposed to crocinus), which is similar enough to gelwaz - considering Grimm's law - that I'd be willing to bet they share their etymology in an Indo-European common ancestor.


*ghel- "to shine".
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Felstaff wrote:(collected from one of many of those "random fact" emails you get from well-meaning aunts, co-workers etc.)

The old Sanskrit word for war literally translates as "desire for more cows"


Of course we're not told what this word actually is. The closest I could find was गवां तीर्थ gavāṃ tīrtha "to set out for battle [to conquer cows]". But of course this is by no means the only "word for war" in Sanskrit.
--
I think I found it:
गविष्ठि (gaviṣṭi) Ved. Desire for cows... Desire of battle

also
गव्य gavya desire for cows or milk, ardour of battle

Sanskrit is full of polysemy...
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Please edit your latest post instead of posting two or three times in a row, if no one has responded since you last posted. (Also, note to any other mods who wander in here: the links are interesting and topical, so I'm leaving them despite low post count.)

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Felstaff » Thu May 01, 2008 10:45 pm UTC

I always knew I liked you. Ever since you joined a couple of hours ago.
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby goofy » Fri May 02, 2008 4:12 am UTC

Sorry that I posted 3 times instead of editing.

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Re: What's the deal with yellow?

Postby markfiend » Fri May 02, 2008 8:22 am UTC

goofy wrote:*ghel- "to shine".

I believe that in Beowulf, the sea is described using the OE word for yellow; so in English the 'shining' connotation must have been gradually replaced by the colour.
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Emu* » Fri May 02, 2008 9:40 am UTC

It's quite difficult to swear in Welsh. Trust me, I'm native. It's even more difficult to tell the English what our swearwords are, since English lacks all the useful phoenyms. My name is almost never pronounced correctly. :evil:

And for yellow, we use "Melyn" (approx. "Mellin", emphasis on penultimate syllable)
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby markfiend » Fri May 02, 2008 3:48 pm UTC

D'you mean that Welsh is your first language? Wow, I didn't think that was at all common any more.
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby goofy » Fri May 02, 2008 4:15 pm UTC

The Welsh descendents of Proto-Indo-European *ghel- are glân "clean" and glain "jewel", and Middle Welsh gell "yellow".

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Emu* » Fri May 02, 2008 4:35 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:D'you mean that Welsh is your first language? Wow, I didn't think that was at all common any more.


I grew up in North West Wales (Llŷn Peninsula) where Welsh is the default language for speaking to strangers. Or at least, it's default outside of the tourist season. There are only a couple of non-Welsh-medium schools in the whole of Gwynedd, and of those I suspect most to be private.
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby steewi » Mon May 05, 2008 1:47 am UTC

Huzzah for continuing the Welsh traditions. Good on you.

When you say you can't explain Welsh swearing to English speakers, I don't understand why you can't write them in Welsh orthography. If English speakers mangle them, it's their own fault. I'd love to know what the favourite Welsh topics for swearing are. I figure they don't *actually* have anything to do with sheep.

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Asleep or Wrong » Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:49 am UTC

I heard to-day a really marvellous etymology.

The words for these things:
Image Image Image
(among others)

Come from a word for this:
Image

Latin cardo ‘door-hinge’ gets an adjective form cardinalis ‘relating to a door-hinge’ (I don't really know on what occasion such a word would be useful, but these were the Romans). Cardinalis comes to mean ‘important’ or ‘significant’ due to the nature of a door-hinge as the thing around which the door turns (c.f. pivotal). From that we get numeri cardinales ‘cardinal numbers’, cardinalis episcopus ‘cardinal bishop’ (eventually becomes simply cardinal), and from its appearance to the presbyter's robes the cardinalidae birds.

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby meelg » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:35 am UTC

I've got a questio that's been bugging me for tens of minutes now: Anyone out there know the origin of the phrase "seen the elephant" as pertaining to having seen combat?

And it's not the U.S. civil war, I know for a fact it was used by early Victorian soldiers.

Please! Nobody I know has the answer!

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby JayDee » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:59 am UTC

I've never heard the phrase before, but I asked google for you.
Gerald Conti wrote:An American and more ironic derivation dates from the 1820s and the first days of the traveling circuses. A New England tale tells of the farmer who had heard much of the unique appearance of the elephant, but had never seen one. He was told by a neighbor that the circus was expected in a nearby community and he swore he would attend. Setting out early on the following morning in his wagon, the farmer hoped to make the first performance. Upon reaching a crossroad several miles from home, where vision was obscured by a tall hedgerow, the farmer urged his horse into the intersection. At that same moment the circus train, led by the elephant, reached the crossroad from a different direction. The resulting collision smashed the wagon to splinters, killed the horse, and knocked the farmer unconscious. The circus train passed on as though nothing had happened. Awakening after several hours, the farmer surveyed the destruction and stated dryly, "Well, at least I've seen the elephant."
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby kaitou » Sun Nov 09, 2008 4:49 pm UTC

I think the first word I looked up when I got my copy of "The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology" was "ketchup" (well, might have been catchup or catsup, but they referred you to ketchup), which makes for a fun trivia question about the origin of said word, not to mention the bizarre-to-Americans definition, "A sauce made from mushrooms, etc."

The word comes from Chinese (Amoy) kōe-chiap, kē-tsiap fish brine, Malay kēchap and Dutch ketjap probably from the Chinese.

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby thornahawk » Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:21 am UTC

I always liked pointing out how related the words "sarcasm" and "cynic" are.

Sarcasm can be figuratively taken to be "flesh rending/biting"

Cynic comes from the Latin for "dog".

Dogs, being carnivores, like to "bite flesh".

:D

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby goofy » Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:01 pm UTC

thornahawk wrote:I always liked pointing out how related the words "sarcasm" and "cynic" are.

Sarcasm can be figuratively taken to be "flesh rending/biting"

Cynic comes from the Latin for "dog".

Dogs, being carnivores, like to "bite flesh".

:D

~ Werner


sarcasm is from Greek σαρκάζω "to tear flesh like dogs". cynic is from Greek (not Latin) κυνικος "dog-like". The words aren't etymologically related.

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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby thornahawk » Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:48 pm UTC

They aren't etymologically related in the sense of both coming from the same ancient word. I just wanted to point out how the two words jive, in the sense that sarcasm is one of the tools of the trade of cynics. ;P Dogs like to bite flesh. ;)

So as not to derail, I offer the interesting etymology of "sinister" and "gauche". Both inherit their negative connotations from being words for "left" (in Latin and French, respectively).

~ Werner

P.S. I concede misattributing the source of "cynic". :)
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby cooldude76 » Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:50 pm UTC

Emu* wrote:
markfiend wrote:D'you mean that Welsh is your first language? Wow, I didn't think that was at all common any more.


I grew up in North West Wales (Llŷn Peninsula) where Welsh is the default language for speaking to strangers. Or at least, it's default outside of the tourist season. There are only a couple of non-Welsh-medium schools in the whole of Gwynedd, and of those I suspect most to be private.


I am myself Welsh (in origin.. :() and would like to learn Welsh, because it is quite awesome. I had to do a project in 5thish grade, and i learned a few bits about Welsh. Not any grammar, but I learned that they have <don't remember the number, but it was considerably smaller than English> vowels, and that w has its own neat little vowelic pronunciation.


Thats all for now.
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Re: Word Etymology & Origins, &c., &c.

Postby Emu* » Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:57 am UTC

more vowels, surely: a,e,i,o,u,w,y... and occasionally h for grammatical purposes.
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