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Etymology scriptorium

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

Etymology scriptorium archives +/-

February 2015


The current page states "Blend of 'copy and paste' and 'pasta'" but I doubt that food has any part in this; perhaps "pasta" is a humorous corruption of "paste"? —umbreon126 06:15, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

Yes it is certainly a humorous corruption of of paste to create pasta. I personally have heard this used in the extended form of copypasta, marinade imply that one should copy, paste, and then alter slightly to make the copied material fit the goal. But you are exactly right that it was an intentional corruption towards pasta. —JohnC5 03:31, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
The two aren't mutually exclusive: a blend can be a "humorous corruption", too. It looks to me, though, that the actual source is copypaste, not "copy and paste", so I would change it to "humorous blend of copypaste and pasta".


How is it possible for the Old Norse fíll to have been borrowed from the Turkish fil. Firstly, the geographic barrier seems rather large, and secondly the time period seems off. Are there any possible intermediaries, or perhaps is the Old Norse term from another source? DerekWinters (talk) 22:50, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

The geographic barrier isn't that large when you realize that the Varangians were Norsemen who lived in Constantinople. Granted, they lived there while Constantinople was still Greek-speaking, but Turkish and Arabic speakers weren't that far away. Besides, where else would Norse get a word for 'elephant' from? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 23:10, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
This certainly would be in line with the w:Volga trade route theory of Norse trade with Muslim countries. Out of curiosity, what is the source and date of the word fíll? —JohnC5 23:32, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
It's mentioned in the Heimskringla, apparently. I'll try and look up the quote shortly. --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 23:39, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
As per usual, we are left to wonder how Snorri Sturluson knew everything that he did. —JohnC5 23:54, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
Cleasby/Vigfusson says:
FÍLL, m. [early Swed. and Dan. fil], an elephant; this interesting word, which is still in exclusive use in Icel., was borrowed from the Persian fil, and came to Scandinavia in early times, probably by the eastern road of trade through Russia and Constantinople; it occurs in a verse of the 10th century (Fb. i. 209), the genuineness of which may be doubtful, but at all events the word is old; freq. in Al., Stj., Flóv., and romances. But úlfaldi, Goth. ulbandus, A. S. olfend or olvend, a corruption of the Gr. GREEK, means camel. COMPDS: fíls-bein or fíla-bein, n. ivory, Al., Edda (pref.), Str. fíls-tönn, f. ivory, Mar.
No mention of Turkish, but directly from Persian. Most other references I've seen say similar. The reference to Heimskringla looks to be in the Prologue, "Svá var hann fagr álitum er hann kom með ǫðrum mǫnnum sem flá er fíls bein er grafit í eik", where "fíls bein" is "elephant's bone" = "ivory". --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 01:05, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
What I would question is not so much the source, but whether the language we call "Turkish" existed that far back. —CodeCat 23:48, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
It could have been Ottoman Turkish فیل. --Anatoli T. (обсудить/вклад) 01:13, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
Except the Sturluson reference to "fíls bein" is from before the Ottoman empire existed. Seljuk is a possibility, though. --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 01:19, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
I suspect the Norse word actually comes from Arabic, without the intervention of any form of Turkish. That's what 𒄠𒋛#Descendants says, too. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 17:14, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

*grysti or *gryzti[edit]

How come that we have grysti instead of *gryzti ?

If this is assmilated then shoud all words suffixed with *orz-, *jьz-, *vъz- be assimilated as well ?

As a mather of fact should all words lacking ь or ъ be completely assimilated ? 23:54, 6 February 2015 (UTC)


User:Kreuzkümmel and I have been having a merry little edit war over his changing the Bulgarian etymology from:


With the claim that his is the only sourced etymology, and that any attempt to remove it is vandalism. To save you the trouble, the link (which I've nowikied so there won't be a ref-noref problem) goes to a page that is no longer there. I checked at the Wayback Machine, and it's simply a Thracian dictionary which has an entry for: "asn - 'I, me' , [IE *eg'hom, Lit. aš 'I, me']. "

Given that that the first has a rather plausible nearly-unbroken chain from a source that had a great deal of well-known inflence on Bulgarian, even if it's not, as many claim, a direct ancestor, through Proto-Slavic to Proto-Indo-European, and the second has a thousand-year-plus gap, has some unexplained differences, and is second-hand from an Ancient Greek word list for an extremely poorly-documented language, I'm tempted to block him for repeatedly adding nonsense and trying to intimidate others by accusing them of vandalism, but I thought I would get an opinion from people with more knowledge and better sources than I have, just to be on the safe side. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:53, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Mate Kapović's Reconstruction of Balto-Slavic Personal Pronouns (2006) lists Bulgarian and Slovene as among the languages which have retained z in their descendants of Proto-Slavic *(j)azъ (Polish is among those which dropped the z). In other words, one could cite it as a <ref> for the fact that Bulgarian аз descended from Proto-Slavic *(j)azъ. Ivan and Vahag probably have access to even more informative references, but there's a start. - -sche (discuss) 05:59, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Proto-Arawak reconstructions[edit]

Hi, I'm working on adding reconstructions of Proto-Arawak and in the main body of work I'm citing, the phonemes [ts], [tʃ] and [ʃ] are represented by /c̷/ (note the combining short solidus overlay), /č/ and /š/, which is what I'm using in the entries I've created thus far, ex. *ahc̷e. I'm wondering though if I should use /ts/, /ch/ and /sh/ instead, which is easier to understand and more in-line with their descendants. --Victar (talk) 04:05, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

I don't think there's anything wrong with using the symbols the sources use, especially if those are what readers familiar with Arawak historical linguistics will be expecting. I would use /¢/ instead of /c̷/ (which has display issues), though. You could also use plain, unadorned /c/ if that symbol doesn't already mean something else. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 08:18, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
I think most linguists dealing with Proto-Arawak are more familiar with standard IPA, as that's what's used in all other papers on the subject, i.e. Aikhenvald, at least as far as I can tell. So Payne's work is something of an anomaly using /c̷/, /č/ and /š/. --Victar (talk) 18:25, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
If most scholars use /ts tʃ ʃ/ rather than /¢ č š/, then I'd we should too. Ideally we shouldn't be using just one source anyway. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 19:30, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
I just found ȼ, which (if you do use those symbols) is a better choice than either ¢ or c̷. I just moved the entries for "tooth" and "horn" to *ahȼe and *ȼiwi. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:19, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Oh yeah, that character is much better. I'm going to look more through the sources to get a good consensus. Thanks. --Victar (talk) 20:20, 7 February 2015 (UTC)


I'm surprised we lack the etymology for this common word. Can anyone help? ---> Tooironic (talk) 10:13, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Online Etymology says: type of peach with smooth skin, 1660s, noun use of adjective meaning "of or like nectar" (1610s; see nectar + -ine (1)). Probably inspired by German Nektarpfirsich "nectar-peach." Earlier in English as nectrine. —Stephen (Talk) 21:06, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
  • American Heritage (dead tree) and Merriam Webster (entry here) both list the noun as deriving from the adjective, which both dictionaries also describe as obsolete. MW lists a first use of 1611.
Would anyone object to the addition of {{context|obsolete}} to the adjective sense? Or does anyone have a citation of recent usage? ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 21:10, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

orisha: Chinese????[edit]

The etymology of orisha is given as

From Yoruba Òrìṣà, literally ‘owner of chis’.

The wikilink on "chis" is to English etymology 2:

From former romanizations of Mandarin Chinese (), from Middle Chinese (kʰjɨ̀j or qi), from Old Chinese (*C.qʰəp-s, breath, vapor)

This seems extremely unlikely, to say the least. I don't believe it for a minute. To discuss, please {{ping}} me. --Thnidu (talk) 07:03, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

The etymology isn't saying the term came from Chinese, it's using a Chinese-derived English term to try to explain an African concept. Still, linking to "Etymology 2" is a really bad idea, and using a single word to describe something that has no real parallels in western culture is even worse. Chuck Entz (talk) 07:44, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
@Thnidu, Chuck Entz: There seems to be a sense of chi in Igbo religion that we are lacking, and perhaps this is what it is referring to. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 07:47, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
Except that this is Yoruba, not Igbo, and the term in question seems to be w:Ase (Yoruba). Besides, the etymology links specifically to "Etymology 2", which is the same sense of chi as it was at the time the link was added. Chuck Entz (talk) 08:39, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Origin of half[edit]

Á (talkcontribs) has added information to half and its Germanic cognates claiming that Proto-Germanic *halbaz is a loanword from Proto-Finnic, sourced to this Finnish-language web page. I can't read Finnish; so my questions are (1) does that web page really say the Germanic word comes from Finnic, and (2) if so, is that web page likely to be reflecting scholarly consensus? Pinging User:Hekaheka in particular, but also anyone who can read Finnish and knows something about historical linguistics. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 22:51, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

That's what it says. The article is published in the Finnish monthly magazine "Tiede" (Science), the writers to which are researchers and scientists. I would consider it a reliable source. The article is based on a doctor's thesis recently approved in the University of Copenhagen. The writer of the thesis is Adam Hyllested, and the title of his book is "Word Exchange at the Gates of Europe – Five Millennia of Language Contact". It's too new to appear in BGC. According to the article Hyllested claims that the relationship between Uralic languages and Indo-European languages is not as unidirectional as has been believed. He basically says that as the vast majority of linguistic research in Europe is carried out by researchers who speak Indo-European languages (which outnumber Finnic-background researches by about 100 to 1), they have the tendency to explain any common vocabulary in Uralic languages as Indo-European loans. Hyllested (who is a Dane, not Finn) says he has good reasons to believe that words have been transferred to both directions, from Uralic especially to Slavic and Germanic languages. "Half", according to him, is but one of the many Uralic words that have been assimilated into Germanic vocabulary. His theory is a new one and does thus obviously not represent scholarly consensus. --Hekaheka (talk) 23:45, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
The abstract of the thesis is in the web, and I copy it here. What I wrote above is based on the article in "Tiede". The writers of that article have most likely read the entire thesis, which explains any differences:
The Indo-European and Uralic (Fenno-Ugric) languages dominate present-day Europe, but both families are newcomers which replaced most of the indigenous languages step by step from the Bronze Age onwards. The encounter between indigenous and intrusive cultures, however, was most certainly not the only interaction that took place. By the time of arrival in Europe, the Indo-European and Uralic populations had already broken up and constituted a patchwork of languages and cultures that continued the process of convergence and interchange. Whether contacts were connected to trade, war, social interaction, or exchange of inventions is revealed by the character of the loanwords in each individual case – while the shape of the loanwords expose the time depth and the direction of borrowing.
Traditionally, scholars have thought that basically all loanwords between Indo-European and Uralic languages went in one direction – from the former to the latter. Such an asymmetry is supposed to reflect a past relationship between two peoples where one had the upper hand, technically and politically, at the time of borrowing.
In this dissertation it is shown that cultures of the Northeast played a surprisingly important role in the shaping of our continent from prehistoric to medieval times; and it is shown how these circumstances are reflected even in the vocabularies of modern European languages.
The Indo-European tribes, shortly after their migrations into Europe, came to form part of new cultural communities, influenced by Uralic populations from the North. This had a significant impact on specific parts of the vocabulary, notably terms for religion and warfare. Many trade terms (such as Danish pung ‘purse’), and words for tools (e.g. hammer) and religious concepts (e.g. hell) originate from Fenno-Ugric and other languages spoken in North-eastern Europe at the time. Even our word half can be shown to derive from an old Fennic trading term meaning ‘reduced, cheap (of prices)’.
Some terms denote animals hunted for their pelt (e.g. mink) and were exchanged in connection to centuries of fur trade along the Baltic coasts from the Roman Ages to the Hanseatic period. Other words for animals, among them quite a few used for pigs and boars, are, quite astonishingly, much older loans going back the pitted-ware culture around 3000 BC. Some loanwords show, for the first time, that (Proto-)Celts and Fennic peoples must have been in direct contact with each other.

The entire thesis may be downloaded here [1] --Hekaheka (talk) 00:23, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

There are a few problems with the suggestion. First there's the meaning. Finnish halpa means "cheap", while its Estonian cognate halb means "bad", which corresponds reasonably enough (cheap = bad quality). It's not clear how that meaning corresponds to the Germanic meaning, which is unambiguously "half" in all attested languages right back to Gothic, which split off from Proto-Germanic first. This last point shows that it's clearly of Proto-Germanic date, which means that if it was borrowed, it could have been borrowed no later than about the last few centuries BCE, which is the time that the Goths split off from the larger Germanic continuum.
This presents a possible second problem. The Finnic phoneme *h originates from an earlier sibilant *š, and the change *š > *h is known to have occurred relatively late in the Proto-Finnic period, perhaps only by the time it started to break up into dialects (although it spread to all of them). This implies that if half was borrowed, it must have been borrowed in the dialectal Proto-Finnic stage at the earliest, so there is both a lower bound and an upper bound in time. I'm not sure if the split of Finnic happened before that of Germanic, though. If Germanic split up first, then the dating can never be made to add up.
Most Germanic loans into Finnic are borrowed with Finnic *h in place of Germanic *h, and *s in place of *z, meaning that the *š > *h change had already taken place, and the borrowing thus took place in the later part of Proto-Finnic. But there is one case I found on Wiktionary where a Finnic *h possibly derives from Germanic *z: vaate. If that's true, then that word must have been borrowed before the *š > *h change (*z was borrowed as *š, which shifted to *h only later). But the word was also borrowed with aa replacing a Germanic ē, which is not easily explained; ää or ee would be much more likely. However, Old Norse and West Germanic both underwent a change of ē > ā, so it's very likely that vaate was borrowed after this change and thus after Proto-Germanic broke up. Yet it also shows that at this same time, Finnic still had an *š phoneme that was similar enough to the early Norse *z to replace it (that is, it was still a sibilant). So we now have a contradiction: vaate must have been borrowed after Proto-Germanic broke up but before Proto-Finnic broke up, but half must have been borrowed after Proto-Finnic broke up but before Proto-Germanic broke up!
It's also interesting that Finnish itself borrowed puoli (half) from Slavic at a relatively late date (after about 600 is my estimate, as it shows the a > o change of Slavic). Cognates of this form are found throughout Finnic as well. I don't know what word, if any, Finnic used for "half" before this borrowing.
@Tropylium: Can you add anything to this? —CodeCat 00:33, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
There's by now a fair-sized body of Finnic words known where Germanic *s or *z was first substituted as *š, which then developed to *h. Some other examples include hakea ← *sākja- > *sōkijaną, hidas*sīþuz, keihäs*gaizaz. However vaate is not one of these: it comes from Proto-Finnic *vaatek and not **vaateh < **vaateš, and its ending must have been added on the Finnic side. So it tells us nothing about the dating of *š > *h.
A couple other words exist though that suggest the same chronology: *ē > *ā in Northwest Germanic (and hence the splitting of Germanic) being earlier than the splitting of Proto-Finnic. So yes, the etymology requires that *halbaz would have to have been transmitted to early Gothic and West Germanic from Proto-Scandinavian. This is certainly possible in principle: whenever a new loanword happens that has a suitable shape, it can end up adopted in all languages of a group so that it looks like an inherited word. Nominally it's possible to reconstruct e.g. Proto-Finnic *risti (cross), even though Christianity reached Northern Europe something like 500 years after the initial splitting of Proto-Finnic into dialects.
(As for puoli though, per the most recent research isn't from Slavic; it regularly continues Proto-Uralic *pälä. If anything, the Slavic word, which last I checked lacks a credible IE origin, looks like a loan from earlier Finnic *palə.)
I would hold the idea that Finnic *halpa is in turn from Germanic *salwaz more probable than Uralic inheritance, but that does not directly affect the explanation. --Tropylium (talk) 02:07, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
So what shall we do with the recent edits? We certainly shouldn't just baldly state that *halbaz is a Finnic loanword without some sort of disclaimer that that's just one person's suggestion, but should we mention it at all? The diss is new enough that it hasn't really had time for other linguists to respond to it yet, but if the association between *halbaz and halpa has both semantic and chronological difficulties that even we amateurs notice, it seems unlikely ever to become consensus. (Which is not to say that other Uralic-to-Germanic loanwords proposed in the diss won't be accepted, just not this one.) So should we annotate the recent edits to indicate that this is a minority view, or should we just remove them? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 08:10, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Hyllested explains his reasoning for the connection between halpa and "half" in pp. 103 to 105 of his dissertation. He discusses the problems he finds in the assumption that halpa would come from Germanic and goes as far as to state that "Balto-Fennic *halba- cannot be a loan from Germanic as it is cognate with Mari (Cheremis) Nw W šul-δ􏰌, E Ki U šul-δo ‘cheap’ (cf. UEW 782)10 and thus come from a Fenno-Volgaic *šal". Anyone interested may check his reasoning by following the link above. As we most likely cannot learn the truth by arguing between ourselves, I suggest we mention the Finnic-Germanic route, not as the final truth but as one reasonably justified possibility. --Hekaheka (talk) 09:39, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

I've added the Finnic theory to Appendix:Proto-Germanic/halbaz, but I've removed it from the etymologies of the modern languages' words. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 11:36, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
That's reasonable. - -sche (discuss) 00:03, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Only indicating etymologies in mainspace as far as they are not especially disputed sounds like a good idea. This could make a decent policy, even. --Tropylium (talk) 21:19, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Boycott (and "boycott")[edit]

I've seen a claim that this placename comes from Old English *Bōiacot (Bōia's Cottage). Is this true? Tharthan (talk) 01:05, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

BUMP. Tharthan (talk) 03:23, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Domesday has it as "Boicote". The standard etymology copypasta'ed all over the internet says 'either "boy's cottage" or "Boia's cottage".' I think the latter is more likely. Old English bōia is a hypothetical step in the etymology of boy, linking the Germanic root with the attested Middle English, but it's not attested in the Old English corpus as far as I know, and it's not in Bosworth-Toller. The given name Boia, however, is far better attested.
TL;DR: I can't be certain, but Boycott < Middle English Boicote < Old English *Boiacot ("Boia's cottage") looks plausible.
--Catsidhe (verba, facta) 03:55, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Not to discredit the form *Bōiacot, as this very likely may have existed in late Old English, especially as a colloquial variant, but I believe a formal rendering would be along the lines of *Bōiancot ("Boia's cottage") since the name would decline in a similar way with other n-stem nouns Leasnam (talk) 05:41, 6 March 2015 (UTC)


In the sense of "to be cool", does it come from the music genre, or is it a modification of "to rule", which has the same sense as a meaning? Tharthan (talk) 01:50, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

BUMP. Tharthan (talk) 17:19, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
@Tharthan: It appears to come from jazz in the 30's (e.g. "The rest of the band was, as they say, really rockin'."). Though when someone (or something) rocks, that sense may have only appeared in the late 60s, and would likely be influenced by rock and roll, which took the term from jazz. Pengo (talk) 07:02, 12 March 2015 (UTC)


I reckon I should know this one, but I don't... —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 02:03, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Vulgar Latin "barra"[edit]

Do we have any reason to believe that this is not ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰAr-? Tharthan (talk) 19:13, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Proto-Slavic *krabъ?[edit]

I can't find source that can prove existence of this word in Proto-Slavic. Vasmer says Russian краб (krab) is borrowing Dutch or German, in addition Černyx says краб (krab) is known since the end of the 18th century. —Игорь Телкачь 09:46, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

grouse: back formation?[edit]

The several dictionaries I've consulted give "origin uncertain" as the etymology for grouse (the bird). However, I remember a linguistics professor explaining that it was a back formation. He said it came into English as "grice", a singular noun, meaning a gray bird, from French gris (gray). Then it was presumed to be plural, on the analogy of mice/mouse and lice/louse, and the false singular "grouse" was formed. Comments? Jane Elderfield (talk) 22:26, 18 February 2015 (UTC)Jane Elderfield

That certainly seems plausible. Are there any sources you can find to back that up? Leasnam (talk) 03:45, 19 February 2015 (UTC)


Is pan in the sense of "face" from the same etymology as the normal word "pan". If so, is the evolution similar to that of mug? Tharthan (talk) 16:29, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

I believe that it is the selfsame word, yes. But I am more familiar with its use meaning "skull" (cf. headpan). In Danish, the cognate pande also means "forehead" in addition to "pan". Leasnam (talk) 02:36, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
I see. Thank you for the confirmation. I was unaware that it there were parallel semantic evolutions in other Germanic languages. Very interesting. Tharthan (talk) 04:35, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

Appendix:Proto-Finnic/jää and Appendix:Proto-Finnic/jäädäk[edit]

@Tropylium: The first means "ice" while the second means "to stay, to remain". It's conceivable that these two meanings are related, via the meaning "to be frozen in place". Is there any merit to this, or is it just a coincidence? —CodeCat 15:51, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

It's conceivable of course, but the morphology doesn't really match up, we'd expect a zero-derivation to simply mean something like "to be icy". Contrast jäätää.
I've seen two proposed etymologies for the verb: loaning from Indo-Iranian (the 'go' root, Sanskrit जहाति (jahāti)); or affiliation with an Ugric root for "to come" (Hungarian ). --Tropylium (talk) 21:14, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Polish istnieć "to exist"[edit]

What is origin of this word? I can't find etymology. It resembles Latin existo, Slavic *jьstъ (there is dial. Polish ’istny (the same; true, genuine)). —Игорь Телкачь 23:30, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

The term is archaic (see scan ).
From istny (see scan at PWN "istnie przestarz, przysłów od istny").
from isty (see scan at Google Books "istny jest pochodnikiem z isty"),
Looking at usage of isty in Słownik polszczyzny XVI wieku v.9 pp. 11–13, I would guess that isty comes from a germanic ist or from Polish jest / być, but I will not research that. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 19:08, 28 February 2015 (UTC)

-aula epithets[edit]

So on the word amydraula is on the topic of WT:WE, and I have been trying figure out its etymology. The term comes from Meyrick (1916b) Exotic Microlepidoptera II, which pertains to moths. I can figure out the first element of the word (ἀμυδρός (amudrós, faint, dim)), but the second element is mysterious to me. It does appear in these other taxa from Meyrick:

Could it be from αὐλός (aulós, flute), and if so, why and can we find a corroborating source? If not, where did Meyrick get it? JohnC5 06:38, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

There's also the very real possibility that it doesn't have a direct classical origin at all. Microlepidoptera are a rather specialized niche of entomology, so there are a small number of truly prolific contributors with their own idiosyncratic naming conventions that others borrow. Here is a list of all the lepidopteran names that contain "aula". Ignoring the other Greek-based morphemes such as aulax/aulac-, this seems to be always an ending. Meyrick seems to be the first to use the suffix, and is the source of the vast majority of the names in the list. My hunch is that it's a variant of the feminine of the diminutive suffix -ulus, with the initial a perhaps being the first-declension ending -a. That is, of course, only a hunch, and I haven't found anything to support it yet. Chuck Entz (talk) 19:38, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
@JohnC5, Chuck Entz: Perhaps these moths are named for their haunts. There's a Latin aula, which derives from the Ancient Greek αὐλή (aulḗ). LSJ states that αὐλή has the sense "any dwelling, abode, [or] chamber", whereas L&S records aula used to refer to "the cell of the queen-bee" and the OLD’s entry for the word has, for sense 3.c, "poet., of the abodes of animals". So, does that seem plausible? Are the moths that bear the epithet amydraula often found in faint or dim environments? — I.S.M.E.T.A. 21:07, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
This seems like enough information, at the very least for a "probably from" etymology. Someone going to make an entry? Pengo (talk) 07:06, 12 March 2015 (UTC)
Pinging JohnC5 and Chuck Entz… — I.S.M.E.T.A. 10:21, 12 March 2015 (UTC)
How about αὖλις (aûlis, tent)? Are the caterpillars tent-dwelling? DCDuring TALK 13:41, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

March 2015


This has "Sense 1 is from Old French (see ciclatoun)." Fair enough, but I'd like to know what the Old French derivation actually is, and I can't see how ciclatoun is at all linked (we have it as coming direct from Persian, not Old French). This, that and the other (talk) 08:25, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

  • The semantics certainly don't fit very well. User:Dbfirs added the mention of Old French in this edit. @Dbfirs: can you shed any light on this? How does an Old French term for expensive cloth wind up meaning “the only card of its suit in a hand”? ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 20:39, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
I have to apologise for messing this up. I was thinking of adding the obsolete sense of a coverlet of cloth, but that would have been a separate etymology, and very rare anyway. Something must have distracted me and I never got back to tidy up the entry. The word has indeed been used for a person on their own since 1937, but the usage for a person without a romantic partner is more recent (since Bridget Jones?). We probably can't separate out the gradual change of meaning. Sorry for leaving my error in the entry. Dbfirs 19:40, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

get the message[edit]

When was the expression "gets the message" first used?--Christie the puppy lover (talk) 12:37, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

To get the message (meaning "understand") is from 1960. —Stephen (Talk) 13:46, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Is this an equivalent etymology?[edit]

Is this public domain etymology (found here):

[= F. théosophe = Sp. teósofo, < ML. theosophus, a theologian, < LGr. (eccl.) θεόσοφος, wise in things concerning God, < θεός, god, + σοφός, wise. Cf. theosophy.]

correctly written by me as:

From Medieval Latin theosophus (a theologian, noun),
from Byzantine Greek θεόσοφος (theósophos, wise in things concerning god),
from Ancient Greek θεός (theós, god) +‎ σοφός (sophós, wise).

particularly, is "< LGr. (eccl.)" the same as "from Byzantine Greek" and how do I, or should I, integrate "[= F. théosophe = Sp. teósofo, < " into an etymology? —BoBoMisiu (talk) 23:19, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

Yes, I would say you have got it right. And yes Byzantine Greek=Mediaeval Greek=Late Greek=Ecclesiastical Greek. You could add that the French and Spanish forms are comparative forms (e.g. "Compare French théosophe, Spanish teósofo), or cite them alternatively as cognate terms...Leasnam (talk) 04:35, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Koine Greek, {{etyl|grc-koi|en}}, is more appropriate for Ecclesiastical Greek. θεόσοφος (theósophos) is attested in Porphyry, 3rd century AD, not yet Byzantine Greek. --Vahag (talk) 08:37, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 13:18, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Folk etymology[edit]

Anyone not yet excessively jaded by the topic might like to check on Talk:tinker's_damn JonRichfield (talk) 16:12, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

I've rewritten the etymology based on the references I could find. - -sche (discuss) 19:22, 6 March 2015 (UTC)


This paper can be used to improve the etymology. In particular, the Proto-Eskimo reconstruction *qyaq is wrong. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:01, 6 March 2015 (UTC)


Discussion moved from Wiktionary:Requests for cleanup/archive/2010/Unresolved requests.

I find the given etymology rather suspect, as the earliest publications on the topic were in Latin. see e.g.. Please don't tell me that the Dutch republic did not have enough scientists able to read Latin in the later 17th century.... Jcwf 23:05, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Those publication use "phosphorus". According to http://etymologie.nl/ (subscription site; probably also in ISBN 978 90 5356 746 3) Dutch "phosphor-" is only attested in 1814, "fosfor" in 1846, to quote "De vernederlandste vorm zonder -us is pas jong, en wellicht ontstaan onder invloed van Duits Phosphor.". 19th century Dutch scientists could read German. --Erik Warmelink 00:09, 10 March 2011 (UTC)


Am I right in my suspicion that the expression attaboy/attagirl is (proto-/stereo-)typically used to praise and encourage young children, and only secondary older people? In that case, an origin in baby talk suggests itself. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 01:26, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

I can see that. It does have a patronising tone to it, for instance I would not use it with one of my parents; certainly not with a grandparent; only in an encouraging way to a ..."subordinate", if you will, for lack of a better term Leasnam (talk) 06:22, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
That's interesting. Apparently it is also used by bosses to their employees, which agrees with your assessment. Isn't it also said to dogs by their owners? This would fit very well with a baby-talk origin.
Curiously, attagirl seems to have acquired a "girl power!" connotation. I recently saw it used in an interview with Canadian opera singer Barbara Hannigan. The interviewer, hornist Sarah Willis, born in America but sounding very British, certainly did not intend to come across as anything but respectful, nor did she want to sound patronising, I am sure. She treated Hannigan as an equal, not as superior, but certainly never as inferior. Both have Wikipedia articles so are clearly notable in their own right, which probably explains why she was comfortable enough around her for such an informal approach. A less known musician, or a musician outside the classical scene, might have felt it to be inappropriate in the same situation. So adult women using it among themselves must have a different "feel" compared to adult men (although among equals it may well sound humorous, playful but not patronising); still slang but not too impolite to say even to a celebrated opera singer in a relaxed but public situation. I was already familiar with the expression Attagirl! before (probably more than Attaboy!) but this example piqued my interest. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 00:46, 12 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, when/if not patronising, it is very informal, like sister to sister, or brother to brother Leasnam (talk) 21:12, 12 March 2015 (UTC)


The page, and respective entries, says that the Scandinavian forms of /tɛnk-/ come from Middle Low German /dɛnkən/. As initial obstruent devoicing isn't a feature of Old Norse and the Low German word had a fully voiced consonant from the 13th century onward, this seems off. Has anyone enough knowledge in that field to confirm this etymology? It seems more like an Old East Norse relic to me, cf. sjunka/synke. Korn (talk) 13:45, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

According to Alf Torp, Nynorsk Etymologisk Ordbok (1919), Norwegian tenkja and late Old Norwegian þenkja are in form and meaning influenced by Low German.
So one could place them under Norse and add a note like "under influence of Low German denken". --MaEr (talk) 15:23, 21 March 2015 (UTC)


Where does this come from? Tharthan (talk) 22:04, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Slavic če/czy/чи[edit]

Anyone happen to know more about the etymology of če, czy and чи (čy)? Urotnik (talk) 20:03, 23 March 2015 (UTC)


Anyone know what the etymology of this word is? - -sche (discuss) 18:55, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Coined by Prof. A. R. Forsyth, F.R.S.: seems to be im- + mānō + -ant (as in determinant). Wyang (talk) 02:20, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
Nice work finding that information! Thank you! - -sche (discuss) 05:08, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
But how does it connect to the meaning? DCDuring TALK 12:02, 28 March 2015 (UTC)


Some questionable material in the etymology there. Should we just remove it? This, that and the other (talk) 00:38, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

The early use as a nickname is interesting, though a link to the New Zealand paper is possible and desirable. It is a little hard to believe that the US usage (c. 1932) was influenced by the NZ usage (c. 1901), but it is conceivable. If removed from the ety section, it should go on the talk page. DCDuring TALK 11:51, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
This search shows that there was a person known in NZ as "Snazzy", but that there is a long hiatus (30 years) between the last use of Snazzy and the first use of snazzy in New Zealand in its modern sense. DCDuring TALK 12:01, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

rada (Polish and Czech)[edit]

Our entry rada suggests that Polish rada is from Germanic. It seems cognate to Czech rada. George Thomas' Linguistic purism says "Jan Hus, saddened by the Germanised Czech of his parishioners, attempted to coin easily decipherable native words [such as] radnice ‘town-hall’ from rada ‘council, counsel’ — [itself] ironically considered by some a German loanword" (as if to suggest it actually isn't a Germanic loanword). So, what is the origin of these words? - -sche (discuss) 01:14, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

Somebody already asked about this word a few months ago. My own speculation was the only answer we got. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 15:45, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
And here I was eying the thread hoping someone with Slavic knowledge would answer. Here's my two cents instead then: Loans from Germanic into Slavic appear very early and are not too rare. (chleb, ratusz) If this is a Germanic loan, it's post PGM as it has /aː/. My partially educated guess, lacking any knowledge of Proto-Slavic roots, is that if this is a Germanic word, it was borrowed into Polish from this form and then spread south. According to Wenker, Bohemia and the greater part of Poland were settled with High Germans who probably pronounced the word something like /rɒːt-/. Mainly the coastal Polish areas were settled by Low Germans, with a High German enclave in eastern Poland. So Low German isn't as spread. There are records of this word having a final vowel in nominative singular in Low German: /rɒːdə/. This form was also the one preferred in compounds and the dative case and hence probably the ones Poles encountered more than the standard LG form /rɒːt/. The Czechs, who knew the Germanic word as /rɒːt(ə)/, and had not even a border on Low German settlement, would not have interpreted it as a Germanic borrowing but rather as a West Slavic word since "it also exists in Polish". Korn (talk) 17:41, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
Many towns in the Kingdom of Poland were granted charters based on the Magdeburg law within the Holy Roman Empire, which was based on Flemish law. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 02:03, 6 April 2015 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology.

April 2015


I'd say this has been borrowed from Spanish, which was borrowed from English. Is there a category for terms borrowed from their own language via another language? --Recónditos (talk) 10:04, 11 April 2015 (UTC)

I believe it would be Category:English twice-borrowed terms, which is what you get from {{etyl|en|en}}. Many of the things that end up there are bogus, caused by people misusing {{etyl}} for internal borrowings- but there are rare genuine cases such as this. The name seems odd, but I suppose it refers to terms being borrowed by other languages and then borrowed back into English. Chuck Entz (talk) 15:40, 11 April 2015 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology.

This has been a bit of a word salad since an IP edited it back in 2009. It derives dialectical French chagraigner (to be gloomy, distress), from chat (cat) + Old French graim (sorrow, gloom; sorrowful, gloomy), which it says is a loan translation from German Katzenjammer (drunken hang-over), though one has to make allowances for bad sentence construction to get that far. Even though it's part of only one of several alternative etymologies that are all labeled as speculation, this seems particularly far-fetched. To start with, it compounds modern French with Old French, then says it's a loan translation of a modern German term that doesn't match quite match semantically (though it's close). I would have removed it, but it's been there for nearly seven years, and a few presumably-competent editors have worked on it. Could someone make some sense out of this? Chuck Entz (talk) 21:26, 11 April 2015 (UTC)

It's the editors being aimless. Perhaps veiled vandalism. Century Dictionary indicates a figurative use of a different French word. Dictionary.com also gives an alternate etymology as well as the OED et al. one. Hillcrest98 (talk) 14:59, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Cleaned up etymology myself, inserted source, removed rfv-e template. 15:19, 12 April 2015 (UTC)


There is an RFE template on that page asking for verification of if it comes from transliterating English orchestra or not. Probably some sources needed to settle. Hillcrest98 (talk) 20:15, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

I think it's pretty uncontroversial that it is from English orchestra. If it were from any other European language, it would almost certainly be オルケストラ (orukesutora) instead of オーケストラ (ōkesutora). —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:40, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. Tharthan (talk) 14:42, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Etymology clean-up on aisle twelve...[edit]

For mummer.

I tried the best I could with it, but it is such a complicated etymology that it is hard to both present it and yet also make it at least somewhat concise (or, rather, more concise than it is presently).

If someone has the time to, it would be good if that etymology could get cleaned up at least slightly... somehow. Tharthan (talk) 14:41, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

I can create momon which is sufficiently attested, and you could move the discussion of the etymology of momon there. Renard Migrant (talk) 11:15, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, thank you. I appreciate your help. I will do so. Tharthan (talk) 13:58, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
Created. Tell me what you think. Tharthan (talk) 14:13, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

Wait for the other shoe to drop[edit]

"Wait for the other shoe to drop" derives from the punch line of a joke that was current in the late 1950's or early 1960's. I do not remember exactly when, but I do remember it made the rounds very quickly. It went roughly like this:

A road-weary traveling salesmen walks into a rooming house. Another man is checking in. The other man is given a room on the ground floor near the stairs. The salesman is given an upstairs room, in which he begins to disrobe. He removes and drops his left shoe, THUD. He then pauses to think. He realizes that the other man's room is directly below. Not wishing to disturb him, the salesman carefully lowers his right shoe to the floor. He goes to bed and nods off. About an hour later he is awakened by a knock at the door. It is the man from downstairs, now in crumpled pajamas, eyes red, hair disheveled, and looking terrible. The man says, "For the love of God man, drop the other shoe!"

Everyone thought it was hilarious. Jive Dadson (talk) 10:55, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

But where does that joke come from? I seem to think wait for the other shoe to drop is significantly older than that. Renard Migrant (talk) 11:03, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

The joke "made the rounds," i.e. was repeated orally. That was before the internet, so there might be no surviving written records of it at all. I remember it very well. "Drop the other shoe" could not have been a well known figure of speech at the time. If it had been, the joke would not have been funny. Jive Dadson (talk) 11:08, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

If Wiktionary has the same rules as Wikipedia, this etymology is stranded in the talk section. I assume my recollection constitutes "original research." Wikipedia demands primary and secondary sources. My fact is valid only if someone can show that someone else says someone else said it is so. Hearsay of hearsay of hearsay. Jive Dadson (talk) 11:23, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

American Heritage Dictionary says 'early 1900s' Renard Migrant (talk) 11:47, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
Oldest I can see on Google Books is 1942. But of course, not every book in the world is on Google Books. Also, the joke isn't funny. Renard Migrant (talk) 12:08, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
Wikiquote has it used (in the form "drop the other shoe") in the short bits of narration in the animated film Fantasia (1940). From its use there it was obviously widely known, but perhaps not a cliche then. DCDuring TALK 00:58, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
It appears in the form "waiting for the other shoe to fall" in a college alumni magazine in 1918 [2] DCDuring TALK 01:04, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

So the joke was already ancient when I heard it. Hey, I was a kid. I was wrong when I speculated that the joke might not exist anymore in written form. I found it in a few places on the web, often not constructed very well, IMO. E.g. http://www.bestcleanfunnyjokes.info/index.php/site/comments/waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop/#sthash.GTokeAHh.dpbs As for the joke not being funny, yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man. Jive Dadson (talk) 15:06, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

  • I found a 1908: "Scott showered imprecations on the head of the unsuspecting offender, and lay wide awake waiting for the other boot to fall, after which he hoped to resume his broken sleep." The source is a business humor collection. DCDuring TALK 20:36, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
A 1904 version. BTW my search has been for "for the other|second boot|shoe to fall|drop". There may be other alternatives that would unearth older versions. DCDuring TALK 20:41, 20 April 2015 (UTC)