Connection with certain Indo-Iranian terms has been suggested:
- Pashayi wālī (perhaps < Proto-Indo-Aryan *abalikā-);
- Sogdian [script needed] (ʾmʾnk /āmang?/, “apple”), Munji [script needed] (āmenga), Yidgha [script needed] (amuno), Pashto [script needed] (maná, “apple”), Shughni мӯн (mūn), му̊н (mū̊n, “apple”), all < Proto-Iranian *amarnaka- ~ *amarnā-, possibly reflecting earlier *abarna/ā- (via assimilation in nasality from *b..n to *m..n), ultimately from PIE *h₂ebe/olne/eh₂-.
There are several indications that the word for “apple” did not belong to the oldest layer of the Indo-European protolanguage:
- The word is limited to the West Indo-European languages
- It contains the phoneme */b/, which had marginal distribution in PIE
- It somewhat resembles the South European word for "apple" (PIE or pseudo-PIE *méh₂lom: Latin mālum, Ancient Greek μῆλον (mêlon)), which might suggest a substrate or wanderwort origin of both.
This all points that the word entered the Indo-European speech continuum some time after the dissolution of the parent language.
- It is said to be borrowed from Semitic, comparing Arabic أُبُلَّة (ʾubulla, “figs pressed in a mass”, literally “a bulk or mass”) and Tigre ዖበል (ʿobäl, “Nile tamarisk, Tamarix nilotica”), but the Arabic is just the classical أُبُل (ʾubul, “dry herbage upon which camels fatten”) derivative from the well-known Arabic إِبِل (ʾibil, “camels”), and the Tigre could be anything and the Nile tamarisk doesn’t have even remote similarity with an apple tree, also there is a ponderous geographical and chronological distance.
- Gamkrelidze and Ivanov argue that the Hittite cognate is [script needed] (šam(a)lu-, “apple”), which renders the original PIE form as *samlu (“apple”). The original cluster *-ml- remained as such in Anatolian but yielded *-bl- in the other IE languages with otherwise rare/non-existing phoneme */b/. Such a development is not attested anywhere else, however, and with the only sound that *h₂ébōl and Hittite [script needed] (šam(a)lu-, “apple”) have in common being */l/ the connection remains dubious. The Hittite word is furthermore identical to Hattic [script needed] (šawat, “apple, apple tree”) with the usual Hattic /t/ = Hittite /l/ correspondence and could easily be a borrowing from Hattic rather than vice versa.
Germanic stem variants *apal- and *apla- point to the originally archaic ablauting paradigm.
- *méh₂lom (uncertain reconstruction and semantics)
- Balto-Slavic: *āˀbōl (see there for further descendants)
- Celtic: *abalom (see there for further descendants)
- Germanic: *aplaz (see there for further descendants)
- Italic: [Term?]
- Oscan: Abella (the name of a city in Campania which Vergil calls malifera, i.e. "apple-bearing", usually dismissed as a borrowing from a northern language though)
- Mallory, J. P.; Adams, D. Q., editors (1997) Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture, London, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, page 25f
- Kloekhorst, Alwin (2008) Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 5), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 712f
- Kroonen, Guus (2013), “apla-”, in Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 11), Leiden, Boston: Brill, page 31f