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Old English beorn[edit]

beorn m (pl beornas)

  1. (Poetic) a man, a warrior, a hero
    se beorn on waruþe scip gemette: the man found a ship on the strand. (Legend of St Andrew)
    • Note the word order of this Old English sentence.


The original sense may have been a poetical comparison with a wild animal: it seems to be cognate with Old Norse bjǫrnbear’, from Germanic *bernu-z.

  • This bear-related word is synonymous to guma.
  • cf. Japanese くま (kuma), Korean (gom) "bear"

--KYPark 15:14, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Hiberno-English gom[edit]

gom or gam

  1. A silly foolish person (from the Irish gám)
    • He's a right gom!

--KYPark 08:56, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Etymology of bear from OE bera[edit]

From the West Germanic *beran-, from Indo-European *bher- (brown animal). Cognate with the Old High German bero (and German Bär), Middle Dutch bere (and Dutch beer), Old Norse ber (bear). A North Germanic variant, *bernu-, gave Old Norse bjǫrn (cf. Swedish björn). The Proto-Indo-European root is also the source of the Common Slavic *brlog (and thence, Russian берлога, den).

Cave Bear[edit]

The Cave Bear (Ursus spelaeus) was a species of bear which lived in Europe during the Pleistocene and became extinct at the end of the last ice age about 10,000 years ago. Both the name Cave Bear and the scientific name spelaeus derive from the fact that fossils of this species were mostly found in caves, indicating that this species spent more time in caves than the Brown Bear, which only uses caves for hibernation. --KYPark 14:09, 7 February 2007 (UTC)


Due to Hunters' taboo on wildlife names

Two likely etymologies[edit]

  1. Cave bear
  2. Black bear


Interesting. This is probably an areal word, cognate with Japanese (くま, kuma), Chinese (xióng, OC *ɢʷlɯm) and possibly also Vietnamese gấu. Old Chinese also had another word for bears: (pí, OC *pral, "brown bear"), which looks amazingly like "bear". 11:19, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

I noticed the similarity between (gom) and くま (kuma) and that the Sino-Korean reading of is "gom" as well. In this case the Sino-Korean reading of hanja happens to be also similar to the Japanese くま (kuma). It could be 1) a borrowing from Middle Chinese, 2) a phonetic borrowing directly from Japanese or 3) simply a coincidence. When I worked on the translations for bear I didn't add to the Korean translation as I couldn't confirm its Chinese origin. --Anatoli 11:49, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
They are definitely not loanwords from Chinese after 100 BC. 熊 goes back to -m rhyme in Old Chinese, and the sound change to -ŋ probably happened during the Warring States Period. In all dialects except for Min Nan, the character is now pronounced with -ŋ; In Xiamen however, it is still pronounced him (vernacular). Sino-Korean reading is (wung), reflecting the -ŋ in Middle Chinese. (The same sound change happened in many -m characters, for example (fēng, OC *plum, cf. Korean 바람 (palam, "wind")).) Other Sino-Tibetan languages generally have -om; some dom (eg. Tibetan), some kom. 12:01, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
It may not be Middle Chinese, that was just my guessing. As with Japanese, Chinese characters arrived in Korea at different periods and in different contexts, adding to the variety of readings and meanings. There are two Sino-Korean readings - ("ung", not "wung") and ("gom"). Unihan database gives the former but the latter seems to used everywhere. I don't have a solid source, though. My Korean skills are very low, so I'll just leave it. Adding the hangeul reading to as per Unihan DB - ("ung") before ("gom"). --Anatoli 23:25, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
wung is in Yale romanisation (the most common system used in academic literature). Koreans use the 음훈 method to annotate Chinese characters, so for 熊, the definition is "곰 웅", meaning that "곰" (kom) is the native equivalent of 熊, and that (wung) is how the character should be read in Sino-Korean words (hence the Sino-Korean reading). This is very similar to the Kun-on system used in Japanese. There are strict sound correspondences between Middle Chinese pronunciations of a character and the Sino-Korean readings. In this case the Middle Chinese pronunciation of 熊 (云東三等合平, which is ɦuwŋH (Pulleyblank) or ɣǐuŋH (Wang Li)) corresponds well with the Sino-Korean reading /uŋ/ (in Chinese 熊 later underwent palatalisation to give modern /ɕi̯ʊŋ˧˥/). 01:18, 13 October 2011 (UTC)