Wiktionary:Etymology scriptorium

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

Wiktionary > Discussion rooms > Etymology scriptorium

WT:ES redirects here. For help with edit summaries, see Help:Edit summary. For information about Spanish entries on Wiktionary, see Wiktionary:About Spanish.
Etymology scriptorium

Welcome to the Etymology scriptorium. This is the place to cogitate on etymological aspects of the Wiktionary entries.

Etymology scriptorium archives +/-

September 2014[edit]

Finnish, Estonian on and related forms[edit]

All Finnic languages inherited the Proto-Finnic copula *oldak, which also has cognates outside Finnic. But in all the Finnic languages, the third-person singular form is irregular. The regular form would be *olebi, but no descendant form of that is attested in any language (the regular descendant would be Finnish *olee, Estonian *oleb). Instead, forms appear like Finnish on, Estonian on, Karelian on, Livonian um, Veps om, Votic on, Võro om/um. Although unsourced, we also have an entry for Finnish ompi, which seems to be an older form.

What is curious about the attested forms is that they don't seem to come from the same root *ole- that the rest of the verb descends from. Finnish ompi instead reflects a bare root *on- or *om- plus the third-person singular ending, which has otherwise evolved into a copy of the preceding vowel in Finnish (but not most other Finnic languages). Võro om must reflect a root *om- with no ending, as Võro does not use the same third-person singular ending *-pi that the other Finnic languages do. What is striking about some of the forms is that they have final -m, which normally becomes -n in Finnic. It's possible that this change only applied in multisyllable words; Finnic has very few monosyllabic words that could have escaped analogical changes to endings, so that's hard to check.

So the question is where did this irregular form come from? Is a root *om- actually reconstructable? —CodeCat 20:23, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

The Proto-Finnic form must have indeed been *om, apparently from earlier *omi, per the Veps interrogative form omik 'is there?'. The Finnish dialectal forms olee, olevat.
Lauri Hakulinen suggests that *om(i) is perhaps originally from *oma 'own' (< *wo-ma?). It may in turn be an old infinitive or infinitive of the copula (much like the other 3rd person forms being originally participles), though this would require that PU *wolə- (or, *walə-, as most non-Finnic languages point to) is actually originally a derivative *wo-lə-.
The 3PP can be reconstructed as *omak or *omat (Veps oma, South Estonian ommaq). In Finnish/Karelian/Ingrian and, IIRC, Votic this has been contaminated with the regular 3PP -vat to produce ovat.
--Tropylium (talk) 21:39, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

mieszkanie, משכן[edit]

Can we get etymologies for these two terms? Kephir has expressed doubt that they are unrelated. DTLHS (talk) 16:44, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

מִשְׁכָּן (mishkán) is a native Hebrew word. I very much doubt that mieszkanie is related. Where/when did User:Kephir express this doubt? --WikiTiki89 19:48, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Wiktionary:Foreign_Word_of_the_Day/Focus_weeks#Same_meanings_in_different_languages DTLHS (talk) 20:03, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
@Kephir: The Hebrew word is from the Bible, i.e. before even Proto-Slavic existed. According to Słownik Etymologiczny Języka Polskiego, mieszkanie is from the verb mieszkać, which is from Proto-Slavic *mešьkati, from *měšati (> mieszać), although I am doubtful of the last step because I am unaware of any alternation of *e and . Although, Old East Slavic had мѣшкати (měškati), so maybe it is the reconstruction *mešьkati that is wrong. --WikiTiki89 20:19, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Length alternations were actually productive in Proto-Balto-Slavic and early Slavic. So the e~ě alternation is not unusual at all. There are also words with o~a, ь~i and ъ~y alternations. —CodeCat 20:48, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

Why does Ancient Greek θυγάτηρ have penultimate stress?[edit]

The middle -a- in this word stems from a PIE laryngeal. But laryngeals were not semivowels, and could never be stressed, so it's odd that this syllable bears stress in Ancient Greek. Does anyone know why it does not have final stress like the PIE reconstruction does? —CodeCat 18:48, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

I would guess that it had the accent on the initial syllable at some point, but the "η" is a long vowel, and that forces the accent forward to the penult. If I read the L & S entry at Perseus correctly, there were, indeed, forms in the Iliad with an initial accent. Why there was this variation, and why it didn't keep the accent from PIE, I'll leave to someone who knows more than I do. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:57, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Or it's the PIE reconstruction that's wrong/incomplete. I did find one source that reconstructed an ablauting *dʰwégh₂tr̥ ~ *dʰugh₂tér- based on Anatolian evidence and corroborated by Greek. —CodeCat 01:00, 9 September 2014 (UTC)


Can anyone confirm or deny the accuracy of diff? (Note that it used "el" where it meant "sq".) Also diff while you're at it. - -sche (discuss) 22:00, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

The first looks like utter bullshit. I don't have a feel for the bullshit level of the second one. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 22:20, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Agree, the first is bs. The second seems likely. —Stephen (Talk) 11:05, 22 September 2014 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology.

I was under the impression that this was derived from Old French via Middle English, with which the New Oxford American Dictionary on my computer and etymonline agree. The derivation from Old English in our etymology is certainly plausible, but what is it based on? Chuck Entz (talk) 02:16, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

This doesn't answer your question, but I'd reckon that it was probably more of a conflation than anything else. Rīm gave the word presence in the language, but its original meaning of "number" didn't last very long into the Modern English period. On the other hand, the current meaning of rhyme is well and sound, which begs the question: After the Norman Conquest, was "rhyme" constantly under the influence of its French cognate? Tharthan (talk) 02:38, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Some dictionaries, namely Century, have the Old English derivation; which I believe, they have it picking up some influence from the Old French word, and then through attrition loss of the older original sense. Leasnam (talk) 04:01, 22 September 2014 (UTC)


The entry for the suffix -wad contains no etymology, but the etymology of tightwad says, "From tight + wad. Unrelated to -wad." It is likely, though, that -wad is a back-formation from tightwad or something similar. OED suggests that the wad in both tightwad and dickwad / fuckwad come from the same headword, glossed as "a bundle" (inter alia). OED gives three other headwords for wad, all obsolete: a straight line (in surveying), black lead, or danger (attested only in the idiom "there lyeth a wad").

By the way, while I'm here, although "blow/shoot one's wad" is used to mean ejaculate, the phrase in its original usage is, I believe, related to "have shot one's bolt". In this case "wad" is may refer to part of a bullet cartridge, paralleling bolt "a short, stout arrow". Cnilep (talk) 05:10, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

  • The firearms etymology would make sense, inasmuch as muzzle-loading firearms would be loaded as a single shot, finishing with the wadding to hold everything in the barrel. Having shot one's wad, the firearm would require time-consuming reloading before being functional again. The analogy to male genitalia is pretty straightforward. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 23:21, 21 October 2014 (UTC)


Is this actually derived from Tolkien's work or something? I saw something on b.g.c that is connected to The Hobbit discussing "moon runes", an Elvish writing system. This seems plausible, and much better than the silly 'moon' + 'runes' etym we have atm. User: PalkiaX50 talk to meh 01:11, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

More to the point: does the current definition exist at all? Everything I see in Books and Groups looks like something from Tolkien's legendarium, with no trace of "An incomprehensible writing script. Usually used to refer to Chinese characters, Hiragana, Katakana or any other East Asian writing script." The one exception is a book called "Remembering the Kanji", but the word isn't visible to the preview, so I can only guess at the context. There seems to be some web usage, but not durably-archived. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:57, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
I've seen it used ironically (i.e. the person wasn't actually a Japanophobe or w/e you would call them, or anything similar...almost the opposite in fact) at least once in the past on a Facebook "community page" not that can be taken as a source per CFI, unfortunately.
EDIT: Perhaps it might be citable in some online "CFI-worthy" source? User: PalkiaX50 talk to meh 10:56, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
I thought "moon speak" came from an old anime that had a group of people on the moon that had their own language or something like that. I could be wrong, though. Tharthan (talk) 16:59, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Tolkien used "moon-letters" in The Hobbit as the name of a kind of hidden writing (p. 49 of the 1966 3rd ed.: "Moon-letters are rune-letters, but you cannot see them"), but some derivative works use moon-runes (e.g. Rateliffe 2011, The History of the Hobbit, "...the first draft of both the visible message on the map and what became the moon-runes passage..."). The "moonrunes = Japanese script" usage can be found on the Internets, often accompanied by one of two speculative etymologies: the Japanese comic Turn-A-Gundam features people living on the moon, ergo Japanese is "moonspeak" (e.g. Moonspeak at Know Your Meme); or less commonly the metaphorical distance between Japan and the US or UK makes "moonland" apt slang for Japan (e.g. Moonland at Urban Dictionary). I know of no reliable sources that support either etymology, though. Nor am I convinced that moonrunes is attested over a sufficient period to satisfy CFI. Cnilep (talk) 00:35, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

This discussion may have gotten lost with the change of months. I've taken it on myself to create moon rune; the singular form with the space seems to have as many or more attestations as the run-together form. I can only find the sense given at moonrunes going back a year or two, but older uses appear in fantasy novels and video games where the word means either "magic objects" or "writing" associated with the moon. Cnilep (talk) 01:03, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

October 2014[edit]

craic/crack wise/wisecrack/crack a joke[edit]

Is the word "crack" in the senses of "craic", "crack wise", "wisecrack" and "crack a joke" ultimately from Old English cracian? The reason that I need to know this is because I am putting together a wordbook of "Native English" (Germanic English and Latinates that were present in Old English. Also, "faith", because it probably was in Old English as well, just not attested.).

So, anyways...

Is "craic" ultimately from Old English cracian, or is it not? Tharthan (talk) 00:05, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

Yes, it is the same word from Old English cracian. Sense evolution: to crack>make a breaking sound>sharp sudden noise, snap>breaking news, explosive sound or report>chat, conversation>enjoyable conversation, fun. Leasnam (talk) 19:37, 5 October 2014 (UTC)
Oh, good. That's great! Thanks much. Tharthan (talk) 20:59, 5 October 2014 (UTC)


I have updated the etymology at faith to include the possibility that "faith" could also be from fay (faith) +‎ -th. Leasnam (talk) 18:21, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

Latin Germānus[edit]

The etymology as currently given suggests a Celtic origin, which seems odd as the name for a Germanic tribal federation. I've read in a few different sources that the roots are instead Germanic, deriving from the roots of modern German Ger (spear, c.f. Old English cognate gār) + Mann (person, people), paralleling the derivation of Latin Alamannus, from the roots of modern German alle (all, every) + Mann (person, people).

Does anyone have more details about this? ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 17:46, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

It's not that odd for a name for a people to originate from another people altogether. The Slavic name for the Romans is Germanic in origin, while the Germans took it from a Celtic tribe themselves.
As for the derivation, you have to consider sound changes. At the time period we're considering, the Germanic dialects were essentially still dialects of a common Germanic language, and most of the characteristic sound changes had not happened yet. This includes both z > r and ai > ei. So a compound of these two words would still have had the form *gaizamann- at the time. Romans would have likely borrowed this as *gaesomannī or similar. —CodeCat 19:21, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
  • I'm familiar with the phenomenon of exonyms; perhaps the oddness that struck me is more that the Celtic roots seem speculative and uncertain, while the Germanic roots seem more straightforward. There's also the example of the similar term Alamannus imported from Germanic, raising the question of how and why the Romans would use an exonym in one case and an autonym in another.
Re: sound changes, do you have any information on when the changes took place? I did note this section of the article on Verner's law and further down the page, suggesting that the PIE /s/ → Proto-Germanic /z/ might have been earlier than previously thought. About the PrGer /z/ → West Germanic /r/ shift, I don't have a clear idea when that might have happened; if the /s/ → /z/ shift was earlier, it seems to open up the possibility that the northwest /z/ → /r/ shift might have been earlier too. It bears noting that West Germanic would be the right speech group for the tribes east of the Rhine, to which the moniker Germānus apparently applied. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 21:20, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
z > r appeared earliest in West Germanic, and took centuries to spread north, affecting West Norse before East Norse. I don't think there are any native texts that show unshifted z in West Germanic. On the other hand, the shift occurred not only after Gothic split off, but also when the continuum between North and West Germanic was much weaker. In particular it postdates the loss of final -z, which never happened in North Germanic and has slight dialectal variation even within West Germanic (English me versus German mir < *miz). This suggests a date centuries after the end of Proto-Germanic, towards the end of Roman imperial times. So we can be sure that all Germanic loans from early imperial times would have still had z. —CodeCat 21:42, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
You are forgetting that these changes happen slowly over a period of time. It is conceivable that some speakers already had /r/, while others even in the same dialect group, still retained /z/. --WikiTiki89 21:45, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
Still, there are other features of Germānus which do not fit: like the vowel e, vowel ā, and the single n. Leasnam (talk) 06:29, 18 October 2014 (UTC)
Folk-etymological influence from the homonymic germānus (sibling(ly)) does not seem impossible. --Tropylium (talk) 08:49, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
According to Wolfgang Krause (1971), Die Sprache der urnordischen Runeninschriften, p. 45, in Latin and Greek renderings of West Germanic names with *gaiza- (exactly our lexeme in question here!) until the 6th century, the etymological */z/ is still rendered using s and ζ respectively. The same is true, of course, for East Germanic names.
Similarly, he suggests that */z/ remained a sibilant as late as the beginning of the Early Proto-Norse period (which spans the 2nd to the end of the 6th century), and he argues that only by the 6th century, there is a concrete indication that it could be identified with /r/ by Latin scribes (Fervir in Jordanes ca. 551, with the plural ending reconstructed as *-iz), while the Opedal Runestone (c. 425) with his meʀ for *miz might provide an indication that */z/ had already become R-like, causing the lowering of the preceding vowel, but this is a more indirect argument. However, the reflex of */z/ remained disticnt from /r/, perhaps pronounced something like [ɹ], for much longer, and in any case this meant that even in Scandinavia, */z/ remained a sibilant until at least the 2nd century. Direct contact with Scandinavia is, however, improbable for the early period when Germanī is first attested.
In conclusion, there is no chance in hell that Germanī in the 1st century BC could contain or have any connection to the Proto-Germanic word *gaiza-, for the missing sibilant alone; and that does not even begin to address the other problems: no diphthong ai (still present in East, West and North Germanic at the time), and no trace of a connecting stem vowel -a-. That it contains the lexeme *mann- is also dubious: no gemination (which would at least be unusual, as it is usually faithfully reflected, as Latin has geminated consonants just like Early Germanic), and the wrong stem class (*mann- being a consonant stem, not an a-stem), although these problems are not equally unsurmountable problems as the obstacles for the identification of *gaiza- in Germanī. It is extremely implausible that there would be a dialect of which we have no other traces that would be many centuries more progressive phonetically in several points than all the known or reconstructible forms of Germanic (which must still have been extremely similar to each other in the 1st century BC, given that the earliest attestations of Germanic material resemble reconstructed Proto-Germanic quite closely). That's just too much ad hoc speculation, and looks like a desperate attempt to save a cute old folk etymology.
That the etymology of the name is Celtic rather than Germanic looks like an entirely reasonable possibility to me, but I cannot think of any known Ancient Celtic lexemes that would fit. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 04:42, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
Per our etymology of slogan, Old Irish gairm goes back to a Proto-Celtic noun *gar(r)man- "a call, shout". This connection has been made by others and sounds workable. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 05:01, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Thank you Florian, this is exactly the kind of dating information I was hoping for, regarding when the sound changes took place. Poking around, I ran across the Latvian entry ģermānis, which contains some details that should probably be copied over to the Latin entry. The Latvian term's etymology similarly mentions the Old Irish garim (to shout) possibility, presumably thus cognate with garrulous, and also a possible alternate origin related to Old Irish gairm (neighbor), which fits a bit better phonetically. However, the Old Irish entry we have for gairm gives definitions more like "shout", and we don't have any entry for garim, leading me to think the Latvian etymology has some things potentially backwards... Could someone more qualified look into that? ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 07:08, 2 November 2014 (UTC)


Can we provide any information about which language / language group the Ebola river got its name? DTLHS (talk) 00:27, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

Ebola is a French corruption of the Ngbandi name Legbala, meaning white water. I found some online claims that it is Lingala for "black river", but no proof to back it up (despite 'ebale'=river). πr2 (talk • changes) 00:26, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
Do you have a source for that? And could you add a Ngbandi translation to water? (we appear to have different codes for Northern and Southern Ngbandi). DTLHS (talk) 22:06, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
@DTLHS: Dunno if it passes muster, but here. It's also apparently in "Tanghe et Vangele 1939", and Tanghe's book from 1929, but I couldn't find a copy of either online. You might be able to find it in a library near you on worldcat if you really want to check. πr2 (talk • changes) 21:22, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
The ultimate source of the "black river" translation seems to be w:Peter Piot, who was part of the group that named the virus in the first place (see here). Chuck Entz (talk) 02:26, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
@Chuck Entz: which one sounds more likely to you? I'm not a professional etymologist or linguist. πr2 (talk • changes) 02:51, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Lingala seems unlikely to me because there's nothing related to the color black in the word (apparently -yindo / ndombe), which makes the rest of the etymology suspicious to me. But I'm really just guessing. DTLHS (talk) 05:35, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

I added two paragraphs to the w:Ebola River article on wikipedia concerning the etymology of the word ebola. They have been reverted by another user with the remark speculation. The approach taken was to use the w:Igbo language as used as a proxy for the ur-language that existed before the w:Bantu expansion. For ebola, this approach does give correct results regarding: syntactics, semantics and pathetics. --Ibolachi (talk) 13:40, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

The following quote is commonly attributed to the German philosopher w:Schopenhauer but is apparently not exactly what he said. [1]

“Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self-evident.” --Ibolachi (talk) 21:09, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Pathetics? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:25, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
I wonder if that's an autocorrect goof for phonetics? ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 23:35, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: [pathetic] 3 In pl. The branch of knowledge that deals with human emotions. rare. L19. There are actually courses on the subject [2].--Ibolachi (talk) 17:45, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Your methodology is massively flawed:
  • There's no reason to bring Igbo into this- it's just one of hundreds of w:Niger-Congo languages, and has no more claim to showing ancient forms than any of them. Whatever the languages that were spoken before the Bantu expansion were like, they almost certainly were entirely different from any living descendant- including Igbo.
  • Even if Igbo somehow magically preserved ancestral forms, the changes that split the ancestral Proto-Bantu language into hundreds of separate Bantu languages would have likely obliterated any trace of those forms by the time the w:Ngbandi language emerged.
  • You're assuming that the name of the Ebola River is related to the features of the w:Ebola virus, which is almost certainly wrong. There's no evidence that anyone had ever heard of the disease in the area until the outbreak at w:Yambuku, and no reason why that river would be named after it, rather than the dozens of other rivers or the innumerable other place names in the area where the virus seems to occur naturally (the current outbreak started quite a distance away in Guinea). The only reason the virus and the disease is named "Ebola" is due to an arbitrary choice not to name it after the village where the outbreak actually started- it could just as easily have been called "Yambuku".
Even if, by some bizarre coincidence, your guesses turned out to be true, it would still be necessary to remove your edits because of Wikipedia's rules against Original research. We don't have the same rules here, but we try to follow reliable sources wherever possible, and (nothing personal, but... ) you're not even remotely a reliable source. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:55, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for addressing this difficult issue. I will try to address all your points.
(1) “Igbo ... just one of hundreds”: The idea that the w:Igbo language has an important role in African linguistics has now gone beyond the late Prof. w:Catherine Obianuju Acholonu. There is no shortage of sources[3] for this concept.
(2) “languages ... before the Bantu expansion ... entirely different from any living descendant”: The attempt to find the etymology of a single word is insignificant compared to the claims of Prof. Acholonu; and also Igbo had a theocentric core culture w:Kingdom of Nri and a writing system w:Nsibidi which would have made a huge difference.
(3) “Igbo ... magically preserved”: I did not need to go as far back as Ogam stone inscriptions[4].
(4) “changes ... obliterated ... by the time the w:Ngbandi language emerged”: I will need to know if you think Ebola or Legbala is what the Africans gave the first Europeans to arrive in the area in the 19th century as the name of the river. The source says Ebola. [5]
(5) “You're assuming ... wrong”. I had two words which appeared to have the same pronunciation. In one case the word was being used as the name of a river in a place that is associated with the concept the word refers to in the second case. You are saying it is just a coincidence. It would be remiss of me not to bring forward for consideration any ideas that might be useful in combating the current crisis in Africa.
(6) “There's no evidence ... outbreak at w:Yambuku”: Are you saying that no one in Africa had ever been infected by the ebola virus before 1976. I should not have to give sources for this.
(7) “No reason why that river ...”: An explanation could be that there is a particularly significant reservoir of the ebola virus in that area and an outbreak had occurred in the past.
(8) “The disease is named "Ebola" due to an arbitrary ... easily have been called "Yambuku": The first documented case occurred as a result of a trip taken to the ebola river. In 1976 “The first person infected with the disease ... Mabalo Lokela ... visited the Ebola River between 12 and 22 August”.
(9) “Even if by some bizarre coincidence ...”: I was also concerned about this issue of sources. This is not a new problem; it arises all the time in Africa with regard to the question of oral history. However, it is extremely difficult to get a four-way match: syntactics, semantics, pathetics and also pronunciation by accident. Try it! --Ibolachi (talk) 20:45, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
(1) There is no shortage of sources for all kinds of nonsense. You just linked to an article that claims w:Ogham inscriptions haven't been deciphered. They have. They're mostly in a very early form of w:Old Irish. I see nothing that indicates Catherine Obianuju Acholonu has any expertise whatsoever beyond Nigerian culture. There are lots of cases of accomplished artists and scholars who are absolute idiots outside of their own field- from what you've presented, it looks like we've found another one.
(2) Professor Acholonu's claims are nonsense. Igbo may be a wonderful language, but to claim that it alone is the source of all other languages would require detailed categorical proof of something that goes against a huge body of scholarship based on mountains of evidence. The website you linked to gives vague assertions that the topic has been studied extensively, and says things such as the claim that Ogham was undeciphered that are simply wrong.
(5) Solving the etymology of a word will have no effect on the Ebola crisis in western Africa.
(6) I'm sure there have been many outbreaks in the past, but they seem to pop up randomly according to no geographical pattern. The virus seems to be fairly widespread in some unknown host (probably fruit bats), but its spread to humans seems to be due to very rare accidental factors that can happen anywhere.
(9) It happens all the time: Persian بد is the classic example cited in the literature, but there are many others. With thousands of words in any given language, the chance that a few of them are going to match by random chance is pretty good.
All language changes over time, and there's no evidence whatsoever that Igbo is any different. The Bantu languages have been extensively studied, and w:Proto-Bantu has been reconstructed, and it bears little similarity to Igbo. There's no reason to believe that there was ever a link between the Ebola river and the disease named after it before the 1976 Yambuku outbreak. Your whole line of reasoning depends on a series of wrong assumptions and flies against everything we know about language change and the spread of language. The fact that you cited such a crackpot website as proof tells me that I wasted my time trying to educate you. At any rate, if you try to enter any of this hogwash in any Wiktionary entry, you will be reverted, and if you persist, you will be blocked. Chuck Entz (talk) 22:40, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
What I said with regard to Ogam was that it was an issue I was NOT going to deal with!!! I was hinting at the extreme difficulty of this whole topic. Here is a reference to w:Catherine Obianuju Acholonu on the subject.[6] Prof. Acholonu died this year, the tributes were heartfelt. However, you can listen to her yourself; she lives on on Youtube. Don't forget that before the 19th century Nigeria was not an African reality so African scholarship can not be limited in that way.
Thanks for commenting on the key issue: “(5) Solving the etymology of a word will have no effect on the Ebola crisis in western Africa.” Let me ask the following question: before 1976 was the ebola virus hiding from Africans or were Africans hiding from the ebola virus.
However, let's try to agree on something. The discussion above has this: “Ebola is a French corruption of the Ngbandi name Legbala, meaning white water”. Is the name of the river Ebola or Legbala. The primary source is the 1939 article (in French) by Tanghe & Vangele, I have transcribed the first paragraph so people can use a translation engine if necessary to I understand it.
Notes d'histoire ( 1890 – 1900 )
Ebola est le nom d'une rivière qui prend sa source au même plateau que la Likati, la première roulant ses eaux dans la direction Ouest (Ubangi), et la seconde dans la région de l'Est (Uele). Dans la bouche des indigènes de la contrée, le nom de l'Ebola se prononce Legbala; dans le langage géographique on l'appelle Ebola et aussi Eau Blanche. Le eaux blanches et claires de l'Ebola rencontrent près de Businga les eaux noires de la Dua, appelée pour ce motif par les Blancs Eau Noire, et forme avec elles la rivière Mongala débouchant à la rive droite du fleuve Congo, à Mobeka." --Ibolachi (talk) 19:09, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/~shallit/Papers/stages.pdf
  2. ^ www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/passions-philosophy-and-the-intelligence-of-emotions.html
  3. ^ www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/igbo/ogam.htm
  4. ^ www.migration-diffusion.info/article.php?authorid=98
  5. ^ 1939 June 1, “Région de la Haute Ebola : Notes d’histoire (1890-1900)”, Aequatoria, volume 2, number 6, retrieved on 26 October 2014, pages 61–65: 
  6. ^ http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/igbo/Acholonu%20-%20Ogam%20Dictionary.pdf


RFV of the etymology. I wrote that The 'vulva' sense is a clipping of pussy. Cnilep removed this, though according to my talk page, he/she doesn't dispute it (but removed it anyway. I don't understand either). Renard Migrant (talk) 15:52, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

I do dispute it. Both puss and pussy appear in the sense of "vulva" during the seventeenth century. Although puss seems to appear first, it's exceedingly likely that both were used in speech before either appeared in print. It is therefore impossible to know and irresponsible to say that one was the source of the other.
Copied from User talk:Renard Migrant
The slang usage of puss appears by 1630 (Thomas Dekker, The Honest Whore: "This Shee-cat will haue more liues then your last Pusse had"), around the same time as pussy (e.g. "Puss in a corner" in Thomas D'Urfey 1699, A Choice Collection of New Songs: "Johnny who many Times Pussey had fed"). It's not obvious that pussy is earlier. Indeed, on the basis of these poems puss seems to appear first, but it's not prudent to rely on a few appearances in print when dealing with slang. Forms of pussy had already been used to mean "woman" or "wife" before 1630 (e.g. Philip Stubbes 1583, The Anatomie of Abuses: "So he haue his pretie pussie to huggle withall, it forceth not"), so it's hard to know if one form is earlier than the other.
"Fed pussy pap", for example, is a double entendre for giving a cat porridge and for ejaculating in a vagina, and the poem's title uses puss. In other words, both puss and pussy were being used as slang terms for "vulva" in the seventeenth century. Likewise "your last puss" is a reference to prostitutes, suggesting that the word may have been used in the relevant sense even earlier than pussy was. It might be the case that puss is a clipped version of pussy, or it might be that the latter is an embellished form of the former (as is the case for the literal "cat" usage), or they may have developed more or less independently from the two words meaning "cat" (or "young woman"). It is, in my opinion, inappropriate to assert the clipping etymology on the basis of common knowledge – that is, without citing authoritative sources. Sauce for the gander: I'd better cite at least one secondary source for my assertion. See Gordon Williams (1994) A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature, in particular his discussions of D'Urfey at "pap" and at "whiskers", inter alia.
Cnilep (talk) 23:57, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
I concede the point, I suppose someone else might want to chip in so I won't strike out the title. Renard Migrant (talk) 13:11, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Slavic *-ostь[edit]

I'm wondering where the suffix *-ostь came from and whether it has cognates outside Slavic. A possible candidate is Old Irish -acht, both could derive from a hypothetical PIE *-oḱ-t-. The difficulty is only that the Irish suffix is an ā-stem while Slavic has an i-stem. —CodeCat 01:44, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

According to some, from a compound PIE suffix *-s-ti- and cognate with Old Armenian -ստ (-st) and Hittite -ašti. The discussion should be on page 95 of Émile Benveniste, Hittite et indo-européen. Études comparatives, 1962, but I don't have access to this. --Vahag (talk) 10:05, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
I wonder if it is also related to *-ьstvo and/or *-ьskъ. --WikiTiki89 10:45, 23 October 2014 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology. Does anyone have proof that this word was taken from French, since it seems more likely that it was either a continuation of an earlier Germanic word, or borrowed from German at some time, as Grimm's dictionary states. There is a possible use in the early version of the Wycliffe Bible, but I think this might just be from the 2001 modern spelling version by T. Noble. 05:54, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

Well, the t shows the High German Consonant Shift, so it can't be inherited from Old English or borrowed from any neighboring Germanic languages. That makes French a good candidate for the source, since it has a good bit of Frankish High German vocabulary. The only question is which stage of French, and when the borrowing occurred. This would seem to show that hotte was present in Middle English as a borrowing from Old French hute, which (according to this came from Old High German hutta. It's just a question of whether you believe that Middle English hotte changed into English hut, or was replaced by French hutte. Chuck Entz (talk) 06:41, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
The OED gives "First in 17th cent.; < French hutte (16–17th cent. D'Aubigné in Hatzfeld & Darmesteter, 1611 in Cotgrave), < Middle High German, German hütte [] ". I don't know exactly what the parenthetical note after the French means, but it seems that it could point to this "evidence" you are looking for. Otherwise, I also see no reason to why it could not have come directly from MHG (but the question is not what could have happened, but what did happen). --WikiTiki89 08:20, 23 October 2014 (UTC)


Hi. I was wondering what the etymology of the Navajo word Ásáí (meaning "Arab(ic)") means. It seems to be the only translation of "Arab" that is not derived from "Arab" or عَرَّبَ. PiRSquared17 (talk) 20:04, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Pinging Stephen. He might know. --WikiTiki89 21:39, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Not sure. It seems like I heard that it is related to ásaaʼ (pot, kettle) + nominalizer , but I don’t remember where I heard that. —Stephen (Talk) 16:13, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

It seems like even Navajo speakers are not familiar with the word, Ásáí, and there is no other sources. I believe it is not too wrong for us to coin a neologism but it should not be a groundless random word. Do you think we should keep this word, Stephen? --JeongAhn (talk) 18:49, 31 October 2014 (UTC)

There are many words that have been repurposed during the past century or so (such as tééhoołtsódii‎), and since a lot of these refer to things that are not part of Diné culture and everyday life, and since there is so little Navajo literature in existence and since the BIA and other government agencies have worked hard for a long time to make sure that Navajos would not be taught to read or write their language, many people are simply not familiar with the terms. The NVwiki has been careful to avoid neologisms, and we remove them if we find them. For example, the list at w:nv:Kéyah_Daʼnaaznilígíí includes a number of words that we have been trying to translate into Navajo for a long time already ... some of them may never be answered in a way that we can accept. The situation with Navajo spelling and the Navajo lexicon is unnatural and not in a healthy state, due to the climate of political, religious, cultural and racial distaste for Native American peoples. Navajo is mainly used for farming and sheep husbandry and its use for topics of international interest, such as Arabs and Persians, is severely lacking. I encounter many Navajo words every day that cannot be found in any dictionary. Navajo language has a huge vocabulary, but no one has ever attempted to write down and define every word. Two things I am sure of: (1) Ásáí, though little used, is not a neologism, and (2) non-Navajos coming in and removing words that they cannot find in the limited printed resources would result in the exit of everyone involved with building the Navajo Wikipedia. There is a great deal of work still to be done by way of correcting misspellings and adding information, but the Navajo Wikipedia is stringently self-policing and linguistically conservative. —Stephen (Talk) 23:42, 31 October 2014 (UTC)


Discussion moved from Wiktionary:Tea room/2014/October#brujería.

The entry at brujería for etymology mentions a Celtic origin, but this word seems awfully similar to "Braucherei". Perhaps they are related, or it could have a Gothic etymology? Not sure about that, but it's worth discussing. --Shikku27316 (talk) 22:26, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

That presumes Braucherei is of Germanic origin, to start with. Is there any usage outside of the Pennsylvania Dutch? How do we know it isn't a borrowing from Portuguese or Spanish that's been changed to its current form by folk etymology? Chuck Entz (talk) 00:52, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
What does Braucherei mean? At any rate, it hardly seems contestable that brujería is from bruja, so the real question is about the origin of bruja. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 05:44, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
See w:Pow-wow (folk magic). It's basically Pennsylvania Dutch folk-magic, and its practitioners are called Brauchers. The obvious source would be Brauch or whatever the cognate is in Pennsylvania German- assuming it's not a loan-word altered by folk etymology. Chuck Entz (talk) 08:41, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
Brauch goes back to Proto-Germanic *brūkaną and Proto-Indo-European *bʰruHg-, if that helps any. Chuck Entz (talk) 08:50, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
Germanic /x/ and /k/ did not result in Spanish /x/. — Ungoliant (falai) 14:39, 26 October 2014 (UTC)


The wiktionary article as of now states that it is derived from the Indo-Portuguese which in turn comes from the Kannada word ಶರ್ಕರೆ (śarkare). However, the etymtree for शर्करा states that the Indo-Portuguese derives from the Malayalam word ചക്കരാ (cakkarā). Which one of these is correct, if even either is? DerekWinters (talk) 04:28, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
The Hobson-Jobson states that it derives from Malayalam as well. http://books.google.com/books?id=6Z5iAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA446&lpg=PA446&dq=jaggery+jagara&source=bl&ots=ktNamlxGrp&sig=C3Jvv6uZxBlgCLMI_hIp73WeOUE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DW1QVLOAE7eMsQTtjYHoBw&ved=0CDAQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=jaggery%20jagara&f=false DerekWinters (talk) 04:30, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Dialecto Indo-Português de Ceylão says jagra is from “Prakrit” सकर (sâkar) or शकर (śâkar). — Ungoliant (falai) 04:43, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
That's impossible, as the Prakrits were spoken about a 1000 years (literally) prior to the Portuguese arrival to India. What would be reasonable would be some intermediates between the unidentified Prakrit and Portuguese. DerekWinters (talk) 04:48, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
The author defines it as “Konkani, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Sinhala, Hindustani, etc.”. — Ungoliant (falai) 04:51, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Could you present the link? Based on the literal definition of Prakrit, any descendant of Sanskrit would fit. However, the standard definition is only the direct descendants of Sanskrit, and not the descendants of those languages. सकर (sâkar) would probably only fit Hindi, Gujarati, or perhaps Konkani. Marathi has aspiration, a very distinctive feature in Indic languages. Bengali would be something else altogether, considering its highly divergent phonology. And Sinhala begins with an 'h'. DerekWinters (talk) 05:01, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
I have the file, but I don’t remember where I got it from. The full text of the relevant bit is:
Jagra, jagra, assucar bru-

to. «E a este [assucar de pal-
meira] se chama na India iagra».
Ethiop. Or. Comm. T. em indo-
ingl. (jaggery, jagry, jagghe-
ry, jaggory).— Prak. सकर
ou शकर (sâkar ou śâkar),

etc., sansk. शर्करा (śarkarâ).
Jagra, jagra, raw sugar. «And this [raw palm sugar] is called iagra in India». Eastern Ethiopia, common [to all Indo-Portuguese dialects], also in Indo-English (jaggery, jagry, jagghery, jaggory).— Prakrit सकर or शकर (sâkar or śâkar), etc., Sanskrit शर्करा (śarkarâ). — Ungoliant (falai) 05:14, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Interesting. Sorry, but I am unsure of what to make of this. DerekWinters (talk) 05:25, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Germanic *þahsuz[edit]

Proto-Germanic *þahsuz (badger) claims to be derived from a PIE root meaning 'to weave, to build'. This is no doubt due to the great skill by which badgers weave their nests together from branches, grasses, and purloined garden hoses…

I.e. what? If this is not just an error, then whatever the semantic development here is thought to have been, there should be some comment on it. --Tropylium (talk) 05:54, 31 October 2014 (UTC)

Well, it does also mean "build, construct" (the last syllable of architect comes from the same root), and badgers are known for building extensive underground burrows. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 07:48, 31 October 2014 (UTC)

November 2014[edit]

ciabatta, zapato, сабата... лапоть?[edit]

These entries say it's ultimately from Persian (via "[Ottoman] Turkish zabata"), which is probably incorrect as far as I can tell. I found Russian лапоть, is it also a loanword? --Z 16:58, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

Russian ла́поть (lápotʹ) is inherited from Proto-Slavic *lapъtъ / *lapъtь and is probably unrelated to those other words; see ЭССЯ. --Vahag (talk) 18:38, 1 November 2014 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology.

We have no Italian entry for the mushroom sense, none of the easily accessible online sources I checked gives an etymology, and Italian Wikipedia doesn't seem to mention it (though it's hard to be sure, given that it's widely used as the word for "crimes" in Italian). There's one source in Google Books here] that says it came from an Italian mushroom grower's name, but it doesn't say whether this happened in Italian or English. There's also the possibility of folk etymology of the sort that happened with broccoli, which I've seen attributed to an Italian family name as well. Chuck Entz (talk) 19:29, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

Neither form is listed in my Italian etymology sources. It may derive from the plural of cremino which is a type of chocolate truffle. — Ungoliant (falai) 19:44, 1 November 2014 (UTC)
See here for an etymology. I too do not find the mushroom sense in my standard Italian dictionaries. --Vahag (talk) 19:49, 1 November 2014 (UTC)
If the change from /e/ to /i/ is not a phenomenon somehow internal to English, the most obvious possibility is that it is some kind of dialectal influence, either metaphony or simply borrowed from an Italo-Romance variety where a change like that took place in general, with Sicilian the most obvious candidate. Derivations from proper names (as from acronyms) are generally suspect of being false etymology prior to the 20th century. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:56, 20 November 2014 (UTC)


Since it's this time of the year again, I wondered about the details of this etymology. Wikipedia (which also interestingly gives the alternative form Allhalloween) states that the origin of the word is Scots, which sounds possible and not implausible but is not obvious (nothing specifically Scots about the phonology or morphology), while we here at Wiktionary don't. But then, the OED is a source that must be taken seriously. Anybody who can add to this?

I also see that e'en gives Hallowe'en as a derivation. This is a bit awkward: the entry is for the adverb, and the word Hallowe'en is obviously not derived from the adverb e'en < even, but the noun. Not sure how to solve this one best; there should be two different sections, one for the adverb and one for the noun sense, but two identical definitions look a bit stupid. It seems that there isn't even a good way to solidly link to a specific homonym; in this case, an obvious way out is provided by the different word classes, but in case we want to link, say, to one of several homonymous nouns, how do we do this here? What's the standard practice? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 01:14, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

How are PIE words notated?[edit]

I am new to Wiktionary, and I was wondering what for example the numbers under individual Latin letters meant, as of course these words were meant to be visible in their fluidity, since nobody actually has seen anybody say these things. I hope I have made myself clear, if not, please tell me, and thank you for your help. þþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþþ so many thorns, its getting spiky. —This unsigned comment was added by 2602:306:BCAE:4CE0:2CBB:BBF8:A787:A041 (talk) at 02:04, 6 November 2014 (UTC).

See WT:AINE for the system of representation we use. You may also need to read w:Proto-Indo-European for an explanation of some of the concepts involved. Proto-languages such as Proto-Indo-European are theoretical constructs used to show our best guess as to what the language that gave rise to all of the descendant languages may have been like. In the case of laryngeals, we have a very general idea of what they must have sounded like, but not enough to use a normal phonetic symbol. Instead, we use capital H, with a subscripted number to show which type of laryngeal it was. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:50, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
Actually, we use a lower-case h with a subscripted number. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:19, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

притча во языцех[edit]

Apparently this Russian expression is borrowed directly from Old Church Slavonic, using its grammar, roughly meaning "talk of the town". What would be the original OCS spelling? Not sure if it's притъча во ꙗзꙑкцѣхъ (pritŭča vo jazykcěxŭ)? --Anatoli T. (обсудить/вклад) 05:09, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

Probably притъча въ ѩзꙑцѣхъ (pritŭča vŭ języcěxŭ). --WikiTiki89 05:41, 17 November 2014 (UTC)--WikiTiki89 05:41, 17 November 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for that. I don't agree with your edit in diff, though. Here's why: 1. It's definitely idiomatic. Why did you remove the tag? 2. Linking to Russian во язы́цех (vo jazýcex) doesn't seem right, it's only used in this set expression and is grammatically and semantically incorrect from the modern Russian point of view. The term "язык" only means "tongue" or "language", not "people" as in OCS and Russian has the form "в языка́х" in the locative/prepositional case, not "во язы́цех". Cf. "exempli gratia" where "exempli" probably doesn't mean anything in English. --Anatoli T. (обсудить/вклад) 10:09, 17 November 2014 (UTC)
The idiomatic tag is redundant; if it wasn't idiomatic, it wouldn't be included in the dictionary. I remove this tag everywhere I see it, and there are others who agree with me. If we don't link во (vo) or языцех (jazycex), then we shouldn't link притча (pritča) either because it is also OCS, even though it happens to coincide with the Russian word as well. --WikiTiki89 16:57, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

-izn- infix[edit]

Just a thought. Could the infix -izn- as in shiznit have arisen through (probably humorous) reanalysis of business /bɪznɪs/ as derived from the shortening biz /bɪz/, in AAVE possibly with devoicing /bɪs/ (does AAVE devoice word-final fricatives too?), according to the schema /b-/ + /ɪzn/ + /-ɪs/? After all, there aren't many English words including the sequence /ɪzn/, are there?

As for the -iz- infix, an analogous derivation might also be found, but I can't think of any right now. In any case, it is clear that the infix in shiznit is -izn-, not -iz-, as the article illogically claims. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:44, 20 November 2014 (UTC)