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This Proto-Germanic entry contains reconstructed words and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



From Proto-Indo-European *h₂melǵ-. Cognate with Latin mulgeō (milk, verb).

The presence of *-u- in the second syllable is aberrant, as it was not present in the PIE root or even in the related Germanic verb *melkaną. However, the evidence of all descendants speaks unambiguously in favour of its presence. Aside from being directly attested in most of them, it is also implied by Old Norse u-mutation in case forms where it would not be expected, and in the raising of e to i before u in the non-Ingvaeonic West Germanic languages.

Possible theories of origin of the disputed *-u-:

  • According to Kümmel, the vowel *u is an anaptyctic vowel, inserted after the resonant to ease the complicated cluster of three consonants *VRCs#.
  • According to Szemerenyi (1992: 1125) it is the result of contamination of the full- and zero-grade in an ablauting paradigm */melk-z/, genitive */mulk-iz/, but this leaves the Schwebeablaut unexplained.
  • According to Bammesberger (1990: 196f) this */u/ represents a schwa that arose between the */l/ and the */k/ in the nominative */melk-z/. However, this solution fails to explain why the same did not happen in e.g *alhs (temple).
  • According to Kroonen, *-u- originates from the strong verb *mel(u)kaną (to milk), whence this archaic root noun likely derives. This does not answer the ultimate origin of the u however.



*meluks f

  1. milk


consonant stemDeclension of *meluks (consonant stem)
singular plural
nominative *meluks *melukiz
vocative *meluk *melukiz
accusative *melukų *melukunz
genitive *melukiz *melukǫ̂
dative *meluki *melukumaz
instrumental *melukē *melukumiz

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  • Kümmel, M.J. (2004), Ungeklärtes *u neben Liquida in germanischen Nomina, in: A. Hyllested, A. R. Jørgensen (et al. eds.), Per Aspera ad Asteriscos. Studia Indogermanica in honorem Jens Elmegård Rasmussen sexagenarii Idibus Martiis anno MMMIV (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 112), Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität Innsbruck, 291-303. p. 298
  • Kroonen, Guus (2013) Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 11), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 364
  • Szemerenyi, O. (1987-1992), Scripta minora, selected essays in Inda-European, Greek, and Latin. Innsbruck
  • Bammesberger, A. (1990), Die Morphologie des urgermanischen Nomens. Heidelberg
  1. ^ “Mjølk” in Norsk Ordbog (Ivar Aasen)
  2. ^ “melk” in Det Norske Akademis ordbok (NAOB).