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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 edit

January 2019


Is the etymology correct? The semantic shift from "idleness" to "wish, desire" is not obvious to me. Looks like a contracted form of desiderium instead. @Fay Freak Per utramque cavernam 23:54, 1 January 2019 (UTC)

Yes, I am just right now reading about it. Apparently it is both. Also reconstructed *dēsedium. DRAE derives deseo just from “desidium” as like an attested word. Others see the verb first, desear from dēsīderō, but I think from experience that desear is denominal. @Per utramque cavernam Fay Freak (talk) 00:09, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
Lewis & Short has two entries for desidia with different etymologies: one for the senses “idleness, inactivity, sloth” from desideo, and one for the sense “retiring” from desido. Likewise in Gaffiot. No hint of a plural desidia that is alleged to insinuate *desidium there.  --Lambiam 08:08, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
What are these occurences of desidium of the Historia Mediolanensis if not ”desire”? dīscidium? In the other page “desire” fits even more. Should *dēsidium be moved to the mainspace? Fay Freak (talk) 13:29, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
desidii is presumed to stand at Titus Vestricius Spurinna where the manuscript has desidie. Better to read ingrati nebulae desidii caput circumstant trepidum or ingrati nebulae desidiae caput circumstant trepidum, or something third? The latter I do not understand, but the former more: “Fogs stand around the restless head of ingrate sloth.” Fay Freak (talk) 14:06, 2 January 2019 (UTC)


The current etymology is that this is a version of England with svarabhakti. However, a possibility that should probably be considered is that Engerland represents a survival of the medial vowel in Middle English Engelond; forms such as Engelande are attested in Early Modern English (the same explanation could be applied to trisyllabic pronunciations of chimney). Does anyone have any thoughts on this matter? --Hazarasp (talk) 05:17, 2 January 2019 (UTC)

Through what medium might this have survived? International football matches date from the late 19th century, so transmission through football chant cannot have been the medium. We need to bridge several centuries of oral transmission from the latest attested versions having a middle vowel to the trisyllabic practice heard in football chant.  --Lambiam 08:41, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
The standardisation of spelling that Early Modern English underwent means that any varieties that retained it wouldn't necessarily use such a form in writing, especially after c. 1650, except in specialised dialect writing (which really should be checked to see if any such forms come up if anyone's interested in finding out more). --Hazarasp (talk) 06:07, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
Note that the specific spelling "Engerland" probably won't be used before c.1800-1850 as rhoticity was still an option in proto-RP before then. --Hazarasp (talk) 06:19, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
Any association with Engerlish ? Leasnam (talk) 22:40, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
"Engerlish" seems to be first attested in 1880, but this book seems to say that Shakespeare pronounced "Eng(e)lish" as a trisyllable (I'm not sure if that is still believed by Shakespeare scholars, and I have a feeling it isn't). By the way, this is an attestation of "Engelish" from the 1680s. --Hazarasp (talk) 06:19, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
The EDD and Thomas Darlington's 1887 Folk-speech of South Cheshire (v 21), in explaining the use of suck to mean "ploughshare", quotes one Rob. Nixon's Cheshire Prophecy, "Between the sickle and the suck / All Engeland shall have a pluck." This is the only instance of "Enge(r)land" I spotted, cursorily searching Google Books for books with "dialect", "language", or "speech" in the title to try to find books on English dialects. - -sche (discuss) 05:51, 9 January 2019 (UTC)


Something is missing in it's etymology section.
Is it from שלעפּן(shlepn) + English -er, or from something like שלעפּער‎(shleper‎) (cp. Schlepper)? -- 21:07, 6 January 2019 (UTC)

Yiddish שלעפּער(shleper) means “tramp”, as in the Yiddish translation ליידי און דער שלעפער of the film title The Lady and the Tramp. I think the best explanation of sense 1 of English schlepper is from the English verb schlep (which of course is from Yiddish) + the English agent suffix -er, whereas senses 2 and 3 are almost certainly straight from Yiddish.  --Lambiam 10:34, 7 January 2019 (UTC)


Earlier today I created wyla, after finding two quotes in published sources from 1841 (since back-dated to 1826) and 1952. I haven't found the plural attested yet. But in looking for the plural, I found this:

1892, Lancelot Threlkeld, An Australian Language as Spoken by the Awabakal, the People of Awaba, Or Lake Macquarie[1], page 53:
Waiila, m., the black cockatoo; its breeding place is unknown to the blacks.

I also found a other sources of various reliability (a grammar of Wathawurrung; an Australian school newsletter; a botanic garden in NSW) mentioning waiila, wailla, or wyla as Awabakal for "black cockatoo" or "yellow-tailed black cockatoo". Is that sufficient to declare that English wyla is borrowed from Awabakal, or should I look for a published work explicitly making that connection? Cnilep (talk) 04:48, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

To be on the safe side, just say it's from a Pama-Nyungan language and mention the Awabakal word as a possible source, since it could be from a closely related language. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 05:05, 8 January 2019 (UTC)


The name derives from the feminine suffix machia, meaning "battle, fight" (see -machy) + Latin velli, present passive infinitive of vello "to pull or tear down, demolish." seems a boutade.

The currently given etymology seems very implausible to me, using an Ancient Greek suffix -μαχία (-makhía) as a prefix, combining it with a Classical Latin infinitive. The i at the end of Machiavelli is a plural ending, as can be seen from the plural form dei in the full name Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli. The French Wiktionary (under Machiavel) cites Émile Littré, Dictionnaire de la langue française, 1872-1877, which explains the name as a professional name meaning stain remover, presumably related to Italian macchia.  --Lambiam 16:45, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
The etymology was added by a notoriously unreliable editor. This here says it means "bad nail" (from malo and chiavella / chiavo?); so same idea as your options 1) or 3). Per utramque cavernam 23:45, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@Djkcel (Tagging author of the disputed etymology, who may be interested in the discussion.) — Mnemosientje (t · c) 11:55, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam @Mnemosientje Sorry, late to the conversation; but, yes, regarding that 7-year-old etymology: back then I was as guilty falling for Etymology Online's many fanciful entries as Harper was of writing them (but I swear we're not the same person). He's since removed many of those unsourced suggestions, including Machiavelli.
Anyway, it's a tough name to find anything on, but I was able to find a few additional sources supporting the above possible meaning of "bad nails:" (1) The Life and Times of Niccolò Machiavelli, (2) Der Prinz und der Führer: die Machtpolitik Hitlers im Lichte des Machiavellismus, and (3) The story of language. I'll let you guys decide if that's enough to go on. Djkcel (talk) 19:34, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
@Djkcel: I was going to come to your talkpage to apologise for my comment above. I do think your methods have improved since then. Per utramque cavernam 20:25, 16 January 2019 (UTC)

It's unfortunate that we don't have better sources though, all these links are quite poor. Per utramque cavernam 12:58, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

This Italian site states that in 11th and 12th-century documents (in Latin) the surnames “Malclavelli” and “Malclavello” are found, which lends credence to the mal- + chiavello theory.  --Lambiam 14:02, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
The diminutive chiavello from chiavo or chiave + -ello is attestable. Late Latin *clavellus is not impossible, but the Classical Latin diminutive is clavulus.  --Lambiam 14:08, 9 January 2019 (UTC)


Currently "wet + -ware", which, I suppose, is technically accurate, but feels like it is missing all of the possibly interesting bits. There is no sense of wet which indicates it means human brains (which it doesn't as far as I know). - TheDaveRoss 16:21, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Well, one can find parallel formations. In German one calls the “gray matter” also Grütze. Somehow one thinks that a less operative brain is drier. Fay Freak (talk) 16:33, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
As contrasted with hardware (not that "wet" is the opposite of "hard"...), plus software already means something different. DTLHS (talk) 17:40, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
"not that "wet" is the opposite of "hard"...": well... Let's say they're complementary :-) Per utramque cavernam 17:49, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
I’m only familiar with the term from SF, as in Rudy Rucker’s 1988 novel Wetware, who uses it more like in sense #2. It was a surprise to read in the Wikipedia article Wetware (brain) that the term has been around at least since the mid-1950s, especially since the term software is first found in print only in 1958. But I assume that, like for software, the -ware component came from hardware used in the sense of “computing machinery”, a use that dates back to 1947. In the mid-1950s, the term “electronic brain” was a not uncommon popular term for a computer, which probably contributed to the construction of the neologism wetware. The brain is composed of 73% water (H. H. Mitchell et al. (1945), Journal of Biological Chemistry 158 pp. 625–637), so the choice of the first component is somewhat understandable and more flattering than, say, mushware.  --Lambiam 18:58, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Bodies have fluids in them... assassination is wet work. Equinox 19:06, 9 January 2019 (UTC)


The current etymology doesn't mention the Ancient Greek. Can someone who knows the terms add them and an explanation why the city (cities) are named "three cities"? Ultimateria (talk) 17:08, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Wikipedia gives different etymologies for Tripoli in Libya and Tripoli,Lebanon. As to the Libyan capital, the name Tripolis originally referred to a region containing three cities: Oea (now Tripoli), Sabratha and Leptis Magna, the latter two of which are now uninhabited archeological sites. The Greek name Τρίπολις for the Lebanese city is said to be a folk etymology of the earlier Semitic, etymologically unrelated name Derbly. Other sources suggest also a three-city origin, as being set up as a joint venture between the cities of Tyre, Sidon and Aradus. That raises the question, though, why the Phoenicians would have chosen a Greek name for the enterprise. They were Persian vassals, and the Persians saw the Greeks as rivals, so that might have been seen as a provocation. Finally, for the current capital of Arcadia, the name may be a transmogrification of Ὺδροπολιτσά (Hydropolitsá), itself possibly a transfiguration of a South Slavic name meaning something like “Oak Plain”.  --Lambiam 20:36, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
So how do we clean up the entry then, given that Tripoli, Greece's name is unrelated to the names of the other Tripolis? How do we sort out the American Tripolis? I was thinking of seperating each Old World Tripoli into its own etymology section, and the current section be where the American Tripolis stay. mellohi! (僕の乖離) 01:26, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
My preference would be to keep the etymologies somewhat concentrated. The parts that are specific to the English name should (of course) be presented at the entry Tripoli itself, while the parts that are English-language independent can find a place in the etymology section of a new entry: Ancient Greek Τρίπολις (Trípolis). The English proper noun Tripoli goes back, in all cases, to the Italian proper noun Tripoli – either directly, as in the case of the Libyan capital, or indirectly, by modelling the borrowing of the name of another city after that. And Italian Tripoli < Latin Tripolis < Ancient Greek Τρίπολις (Trípolis). The divergence is the origin of the name Τρίπολις: a true compound τρι- (tri-) +‎ πόλις (pólis) or folk etymology (as for the Arcadian capital)? By the way, the relationship to the name Derbly is far from being established with any degree of certainty. The American Tripolis are all named after the (then Tripolitanian, now Libyan) Tripoli named in the Marines’ Hymn: “From the Halls of Montezuma / To the shores of Tripoli”.  --Lambiam 11:15, 12 January 2019 (UTC)

RFV: orbus#Etymology and orbo#Latin[edit]

The same IP (6 edits) included as descendants in Spanish orbo and huerbo, and orbar respectively. Not located in DRAE, I checked: G de Diego doesn't mention them, and Coromines attests only orbedad. We can deduce from this latter contribution, that Spanish huérfano comes from Late Latin or straight from Greek. Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 12:12, 11 January 2019 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology. Per De Vaan the word may also be from Latin "mus". —This unsigned comment was added by Greenismean2016 (talkcontribs) at 23:05, 11 January 2019.

Another question: where does the -ex come from? Most of the nouns ending in -ex have a root that ends with a velar or are compounds with a verb that does, such as faciō, dīcō, iaciō, legō or plicō. Here we're saying that mūs or Ancient Greek μῦς (mûs) has acquired a velar from somewhere. There seem to be other examples, which we don't explain, either: dentex (>dēns), pantex (>pānus?), pūmex (>? cf. spūma), rāmex (>rāmus). There are also words of similar and unexplained form (of both Indo-European and unknown origin) such as cīmex, culex (insects); ībex, laurex, sōrex, vervēx (mammals); cārex, īlex, rumex, vītex (plants); cortex, frutex, rādīx (general plant terms), etc. —This unsigned comment was added by Chuck Entz (talkcontribs) at 03:27, 12 January 2019.
Aristotle (Animalia 5:12) uses the term πορφύρα (porphúra) for the snail, a term surviving unchanged in Modern Greek, and the etymon of Latin purpura. To me this raises the question, why should the Romans have adopted, with a strange alteration, the unrelated Greek name for a mussel, a rather different mollusc? Why not use the Greek name, already borrowed for another purpose? When the Latins first entered the Italian Peninsula and ventured there into the sea, they must have encountered these rock snails for the first time. Presumably the pre-Latin (Italic/Ligurian/Sicel) natives had a name for them in a now-lost language. Can it be that the Latins simply borrowed that name from them?  --Lambiam 10:33, 12 January 2019 (UTC)

hazardo (Esperanto and Ido) - in which language did it originate?[edit]

From what I can see:

  • The Esperanto word 'hazardo' was added to the Akademia Vortaro in 1919, with the 2-a oficiala aldono.
  • The Ido Kompleta Gramatiko Detaloza has a form of the word, 'hazarde', but it was first published only in 1929.

However, Ido is much older than the Kompleta Gramatiko Detaloza, and existed in 1919, which means that the word could very well come from Ido. But myself I'm not sure where to look to find out where it's first attested.

Of course, this all rests on the assumption that the Esperanto and Ido movements were discrete entities, which isn't entirely true. It could have originated among speakers of both languages, and the line could be very difficult to determine. פֿינצטערניש (talk) 13:15, 12 January 2019 (UTC)

Clarification: I know it originated in Arabic and came to the languages through French, but I'm asking whether it was first borrowed into Ido or Esperanto. פֿינצטערניש (talk) 13:16, 12 January 2019 (UTC)

@Algentem, any insights as to when this word first appeared in Ido? פֿינצטערניש (talk) 21:05, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
I figured out through tekstaro.com that it already existed in Kastelo de Prelongo, so I am going to safely put that the Ido word was borrowed from Esperanto. פֿינצטערניש (talk) 08:34, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
@פֿינצטערניש The oldest Ido hits on Google Books are from 1908 (Unesma lektolibro, L'Espérantiste, etc.). Google Books dates this to 1903 and this to 1904, so I'd also go with your direction. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:24, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
@פֿינצטערניש I always find the etymology for Esp-Ido hard. I had a quick look through of Progreso, and there doesn’t seem to be any documentation of it’s adoption (which hints at it being indeed taken from Esp.) But on the other hand, it wasn’t an official word in Esp. at the time of Ido’s initial creation (1907). I lean more to it being taken from Esp too. — Algentem (talk) 15:54, 1 February 2019 (UTC)


  • Kurd
  • From Sanskrit कृति (krti) meaning worker or slave, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *kʷer-.

Wrong etymology and baseless. It has nothing to do with that Sanskrit name. It's a Middle Persina term:

  • Regardless of its possible roots in ancient toponymy, the ethnonym Kurd might be derived from a term kwrt- used in Middle Persian as a common noun to refer to "nomads" or "tent-dwellers," which could be applied as an attribute to any Iranian group with such a lifestyle.
  • Source: Karnamak Ardashir Papakan and the Matadakan i Hazar Dastan. G. Asatrian, Prolegomena to the Study of the Kurds, Iran and the Caucasus, Vol.13, pp. 1–58, 2009. Excerpt 1: "Generally, the etymons and primary meanings of tribal names or ethnonyms, as well as place names, are often irrecoverable; Kurd is also an obscurity." "It is clear that kurt in all the contexts has a distinct social sense, 'nomad, tent-dweller.' It could equally be an attribute for any Iranian ethnic group having similar characteristics. To look for a particular ethnic sense here would be a futile exercise." P. 24: "The Pahlavi materials clearly show that kurd in pre-Islamic Iran was a social label, still a long way from becoming an ethnonym or a term denoting a distinct group of people."

Please fix it. You should look for "kurt" in a Middle Persian dictionary and etymology should be something like this:

  • From Persian "کرد", from Middle Persian "kwrt-" )kurt), from... -- 18:15, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
The Persian Wikipedia has an extensive section on the meaning of the name discussing several theories, followed by a section challenging the dominant theory. I am not in a position to evaluate the merits of all this.  --Lambiam 18:46, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
That article in Persian Wikipedia makes zero sense because it was edited by Kurdish ethnonationalists and they added many ridiculous claims from personal blogs and primary sources to it. For example, they even claimed almost all of Shahnameh characters are Kurd or many other similar nonsense! As I said, use a Middle Persian dictionary like David Neil MacKenzie's book or contact some well-known specialist like Gernot Windfuhr. "Kurd" or "Kurt" appeared during Sasanian era and mentioned in Middle Persian (Pahlavi) sources and it just means "nomad". The other theories are just weak stuff that try relate Kurds to Near Eastern peoples like Sumerians. -- 20:45, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
The "slaves" etymology is from {{R:pal:Nyberg|pages=120-121}}. If someone wants to list all the theorized etymologies, they're welcome to. For now though, unknown is fine with me. --{{victar|talk}} 03:45, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
Lowercase kurd, as a Kurdish word, may also need to be looked at (it currently says it's from Sumerian). - -sche (discuss) 23:56, 13 January 2019 (UTC)


This looks like a misspelling of گچ‎. @Irman, do you have a source for that etymology? --{{victar|talk}} 08:35, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

No, it is not a misspelling. it's now an archaic word in persian with different etymology and different meaning however some of none Persian speakers or writers who didn't know persian well merged it with گچ‎. but you can see that it went into turkish language with its right meaning.(Irman (talk) 11:25, 14 January 2019 (UTC))
@Irman: Well I find the etymology you give rather baseless and absolutely no mention of گچ‎ is made. I see the Turkish borrowing, but that doesn't rule out the -r- being non-etymological. --{{victar|talk}} 19:09, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
{{R:fa:Dehkhoda:1931}} says this word is Mazanderani. --{{victar|talk}} 00:42, 15 January 2019 (UTC)


@Irman, is پدواذ‎ a reconstruction? Where is *padwād(ag)? coming from? --{{victar|talk}} 10:29, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

I suggested that etymology by comparision with its alternative forms.(Irman (talk) 11:28, 14 January 2019 (UTC))
@Irman: 1) what are you proposing the origin and meaning of this *padwād(ag) word is, 2) why you would reconstruct a Middle Iranian form with no cognates in the first place, and 3) why are you using {{m|und}}, and not reconstructing a MP form? --{{victar|talk}} 19:09, 14 January 2019 (UTC)


@Irman, where is this etymology coming from? It looks very ad hoc. --{{victar|talk}} 22:06, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

Germanic words for "lion"[edit]

Sparked by the extreme size of the descendants section of leō (I have since {{see desc}}'ed some of the entries where it wouldn't look silly) and my wish to collapse the Germanic section into a see desc template to shorten the descendants section some and make it easier to apply {{top3}} without it looking weird, I have been wondering about a possible Proto-Germanic form.

  1. It seems quite possible that the word was loaned in the (late?) Proto-Germanic stage, but I'm not sure if there are forms which would explain all descendants we currently have listed there.
  2. Certainly some of the Germanic forms are just direct borrowings from Latin without Proto-Germanic intermediary, as indicated on the entry already.
  3. Pronk-Tiethoff (2013) supposes a "Germanic *le(w)o-" (p. 135), which is quite far from the *laujan that's currently on the Latin entry and e.g. the "germ. *laujō-, *laujōn?, *lauja-, *laujan?" given by Köbler for the supposed Gothic form *𐌻𐌹𐍅𐌰 (*liwa), which is thought to have existed based on personal names and the Slavic words, which again per Pronk-Tiethoff most likely derive from a Germanic source with i-vocalism.
  4. If *𐌻𐌹𐍅𐌰 (*liwa) is indeed an an-stem, which it does look like, and considering that OHG. lewo is also from an-stem (per Köbler), I would with my limited knowledge reconstruct something like an an-stem *lewô (but which already means "scythe").

Does anyone have any comments/thoughts here? I don't trust my own knowledge of old Germanic languages other than Gothic enough to move ahead with this. Also wondering about where the -w- is from. — Mnemosientje (t · c) 14:46, 16 January 2019 (UTC)


This is claimed to be a calque of either Dutch oproer or German Aufruhr. The problem with that is that roeren does not mean "to roar", nor does rühren. So it's only partially a calque. It's kind of like forlorn hope, I guess. I will note that in both cases, the process of "calquing" the source word into English in a way that left the resulting word the way that it did (having part of its makeup be made up of a word that is totally different from the corresponding part of the makeup of its source word) caused a secondary meaning of the word to arise based upon the "unrelated word part". In the case of uproar, the meaning "loud confused noise, especially when coming from several sources" arose, and in the case of forlorn hope, the (now much more commonly-used meaning) "a dangerous or hopeless venture" arose. Personally, I think that, in forlorn hope’s case, this was a boon, because having a literal take on the term expanded it to be less restricted, yet in a positive way. I don't know, I just like it a lot.

In any case, describing uproar simply as a calque of oproer or Aufruhr is inadequate, as it gives the (incorrect) impression to the unknowing reader that roer and *Ruhr (I know that Ruhr exists as a totally different word, but it doesn't exist in the fashion that I am talking about) mean "roar". Tharthan (talk) 15:04, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

Philippa et al. mention an Early Modern English form "uprour" (either from Early Modern Dutch or Middle Low German), which looks like a more straightforward loanword. The -roar would then be a folk-etymological alteration of the earlier form, which was a loanword. — Mnemosientje (t · c) 15:09, 17 January 2019 (UTC)


I have my doubts about the "Old English" part of this etymology. I've seen on Wiktionary before (although it isn't that common) doubtful claims that "Old English" origins are present for this word or that word, when it is quite clear that the word doesn't go back any further than Middle English.

I haven't changed it myself, just on the off chance that this word somehow does go back to Old English (I can't personally see how it could, but, hey, who knows?) Tharthan (talk) 00:32, 19 January 2019 (UTC)

I've checked tand it apparently is first attested in Middle English, so I've changed it appropriately. I think that some of these people are using "Old English" in a loose sense; i.e. "a earlier form of English". ---Hazarasp (talk) 06:45, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
I've been updating these as I find them, but yes, sometimes Old English was used when they really meant Middle English Leasnam (talk) 02:52, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

England - Etymology Dating - Citations[edit]

Does anyone have any information about when the actual term England, in that spelling, was first used? There is no information about that in either the Etymology or the Citations. Citations of the earliest known usage would be useful. This seems to be a deficiency, which I hope someone can fix. --richardb43 (sorry, forgotten how to do a proper signature)

I don't have an exact date, but this might help narrow down your search: it appears perhaps to be sometime in the Modern period. In Middle English we find Ingland and Englond, among others, but no *England. Leasnam (talk) 02:23, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

RFV: persisto#Latin[edit]

From per- + sisto. Any doubt? Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 09:29, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

Lewis & Short agrees.  --Lambiam 20:37, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

bishop (chess)[edit]

Many terms for the chess piece bishop in various languages fall in similar classes, but in many cases the etymology makes no mention of this, often only giving the etymology of the main sense. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

Läufer, cursor etc. ("runner"; "hunter")[edit]

Many continental Germanic languages and Slavic languages beside some others (e.g. Romansch currider, Hungarian futó, Hebrew רָץ‎) have a term that literally translates to "runner". In many of the Germanic and maybe also the Slavic languages this meaning probably was a semantic borrowing or was in another way derived from German Läufer. Several dictionaries state that MHG loufer was already used in this sense, so this probably predates most of the other languages in this category. Certain South Slavic languages also have a term translating to "hunter", which might be a homophonic rendition of the Germanic. Latin also has cursor for this, beside apparently many other terms. Does anybody know whether this predates the German and whether it is a more likely origin for some term? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

офицер, αξιωματικός, etc. ("officer")[edit]

These literally mean "officer", which is also in some other languages used as a non-specific term for rooks, knights and bishops. Any idea whether a borrowing or a language-internal development is more likely? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)


Does the sense bishop in this derive from Arabic فِيل‎(fīl) similar to or perhaps via Spanish alfil? Perhaps this is also comparable to the "officer" class. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

nebun ("madman")[edit]

Has this been influenced by French fou? The translation table at bishop also has Hungarian bolond, though this meaning is absent from the entry and the translation was added by a Romanian IP. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

@Robbie SWE Can you confirm or deny whether nebun (bishop) has been influenced by fou? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 15:47, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
@Lingo Bingo Dingo, it is highly likely that French fou had some kind of influence. According to this thread, Romanian nebun (N.B. equivalent to the chess piece and not a translation of bishop which in Romanian is episcop) is in fact a calque of the French fou (bishop in chess). --Robbie SWE (talk) 21:54, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
@Robbie SWE Thank you. It turned out that a print dictionary has the same etymology, which has now been added to the entry. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 14:42, 2 February 2019 (UTC)
@Panda10 Is the term bolond in the translation table of bishop correct? If so, does it have a similar etymology as nebun? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 11:25, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
@Lingo Bingo Dingo The translation is correct. It is included in the Great Dictionary of the Hungarian language, item 7 toward the bottom, but bolond in this sense (as a chess piece) is archaic or obsolete and is no longer used today. The etymologies of bolond and nebun are different. Panda10 (talk) 18:14, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
@Panda10 Okay, thank you for verifying. To clarify, with "similar etymology" I meant whether the old-fashioned meaning "bishop" in some way derives from French fou. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 12:25, 16 February 2019 (UTC)

isqof, bispur ("bishop")[edit]

Irish easpag, Maltese isqof, Icelandic biskup and Faroese bispur all literally mean "bishop", which is rather uncommon among European terms for the bishop in chess. Semantic borrowing from English seems plausible enough for Irish and Maltese. But is it also plausible for Faroese and Icelandic (distane doesn't seem a problem) or is instead based on the appearance of the chess piece? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

I think this goes back to how the game was introduced on these islands, which may be lost in the shrouds of history. But it was quite likely by some traveller, returning home, who themselves had become acquainted with the game in foreign lands. That putative traveller would almost certainly have introduced the pieces to their compatriots with the translated names of how they themselves had been told the pieces were named. So if they were coming back from England or Ireland, they would have called the diagonally-moving piece biskup or whatever the term for an ecclesiastical bishop was in the local vernacular. Semantic borrowing appears considerably more plausible to me than naming based on the appearance.  --Lambiam 14:40, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam It seems Latin episcopus can also be used for the chess piece, though it has been labelled as uncommon. I suppose that complicates the etymologies, although a uncommon term is generally not a likely source. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 13:52, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
@Lingo Bingo Dingo. I’m not so sure that in that line of the quoted poem episcopus is a name for the piece, instead of the ecclesiastical rank. A few lines earlier we read miles et alphinus, roccus, rex, virgo pedesque, which means (in present-day terminology) “knight and bishop, rook, king, queen and pawn”. In this line, alphinus is a Latinization of Old French alphin; see Godefroy (under alfin). Then, a few lines further, the poet writes, “The King is the Sun, the pawn Saturn, Mars likewise the Knight, the royal queen Venus, the alphin – himself a bishop – Jupiter, and the roaming rook the Moon.”  --Lambiam 17:59, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam Fair enough, Mediaeval Latin dictionaries don't seem to have episcopus in that sense either. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 11:22, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
@BigDom Do you think you could find any literature about how the bishop piece got this name in Icelandic? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 13:52, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
@Lingo Bingo Dingo According to the Íslensk orðsifjabók, Icelandic biskup was a C11th borrowing from Old English biscop in the ecclesiastical sense already. According to this article about the history of chess, the game had made it to Iceland by the early C13th at the latest (it was mentioned by Snorri Sturlason, who died in 1241), brought back by monks/clergymen who had studied in England. The article also notes the rarity of bishop for this piece, indicating that it must therefore be a borrowing from (Old) English. In recent years, a couple of Icelandic chess aficionados tried to claim that the borrowing took place the other way around [5], but I don't think that theory is accepted by anybody else. BigDom 05:54, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
@BigDom It looks like the English is only attested as a chess term in Early Modern English; the OED has a quotation from the sixteenth century and Middle English dictionaries don't seem to have it. And it was apparently also used in older Danish, it is an obsolete sense of biskop in dictionaries of Modern Danish. Do you have any information what the earliest date of attestation is for the chess sense in Icelandic? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 11:22, 15 February 2019 (UTC)


Does the sense bishop in Mongolian тэмээ (temee), literally "camel", directly or ultimately derive from an Indian language, such as Hindi ऊँट (ū̃ṭ)? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:02, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

Murray, in his 1913 book A History of Chess, considers two possible parentages of the Mongol versian: Persian and directly Indian. Finding arguments for and against either theory, none conclusive, he appears to favour the Persian route (p. 376–7). As to the name of the bishop, he writes: “If we confine our attention to the ordinary chess, we have no instance of the replacement of the Elephant by the Camel in Persian chess. The change has been made in many forms of chess that have been recorded in India, but in every case the Elephant remains upon the chessboard in the place of the Rook. There is no known instance of any Indian game of chess in which the Camels stand on c1 and f1 (c8 and f8), and at the same time the Chariots stand on the corner squares. I conclude, therefore, that we have here an independent Mongol change, in which the typically Indian beast of burden is replaced by the typical Mongol beast, the two-humped or Bactrian camel, which is a native of Central Asia.”  --Lambiam 20:22, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
Mongolian шатар (šatar, chess) comes from Persian, and so does бэрс (bers, queen) so the Persian hypothesis is far more likely.
(Mongolian also has some Indic influence from the transmission of Buddhism, but it seems like Buddhists didn't care much about chess since Tibet doesn't seem to have the chess tradition similar to the Mongolian one) Crom daba (talk) 20:31, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
@Crom daba, Lambiam But the Persian term is فیل‎ (per bishop and the Persian Wikipedia), which comes from Arabic and literally translates to "elephant". I am also curious how Murray explains Hindi ऊँट (ū̃ṭ) if he sees тэмээ (temee) as an independent change. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 14:41, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
On page 27 Murray describes the original arrangement of the European game (11th to 13th centuries), transmitted through the Persians but directly descending from a 7th-century Indian game, as having in order, from left to right on the squares a1, b1 and c1, the Chariot, the Horse, and the Elephant (and also in reflection by switching left–right or white–black). In a footnote, he elaborates, “In some Indian descriptions the Chariot is replaced by a Boat ; in others the Elephant and Chariot have changed places ; in the modern Indian games the Chariot is often replaced by an Elephant, and the original Elephant by a Camel.” Then, on page 60, in discussing the uncertainty about the positions of the pieces in some older descriptions of the Indian game, he writes: “By the 17th c. generally the piece with the Rook's move had been definitely fixed on the corner squares, but changes were introduced in the nomenclature. To-day three main divisions may be made. The original nomenclature. Chariot a1, Horse b1, Elephant c1, is the usual nomenclature in Northern India and in the Maldive Islands. The inverted nomenclature, Elephant a1, Horse b1, Chariot c1, is the rule in the extreme South of India among the Tamils, Telugus, and Kannadis. A new nomenclature, Elephant a1, Horse b1, Camel c1, is widely spread. It has been noted as far North as Delhi, and is the rule over the greater part of Central India and the Deccan.” The first appearance of camels in the Indian game is in the Bhagavantabhāskara, written by Nīlakaṇṭ·ha about 1600 or 1700, which is several centuries later than Murray’s estimate for the inception of Mongol chess, c. 1300. No specific explanation for these name changes is offered. In same instances he argues that the use of synonyms for camel may reflect that the writer was used to carved pieces recognizably representing these beasts, but presumably the name changes would have preceded the craftsperson’s figurine changes. (Or an unskilled carver attempted to carve an elephant, but the result was such that people identified it as a camel :).)  --Lambiam 16:13, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
@Lambiam Thanks for that. It does leave me wondering whether the camel piece may have been an influence mediated through the Mughal Empire. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:43, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. As far as I can see Murray does not mention the Mughal (or Mogul) Empire. I know very little of cultural transmission back from the subcontinent to Central Asia. To rule out some possibilities it would be helpful to know when the name тэмээ for the piece started to be used: already from the inception c. 1300, or may there have been a later name change, replacing an earlier заан? The start date of the Mughal Empire is commonly given as 1526, much later than 1300.  --Lambiam 11:12, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
The layout of Tamerlane chess already includes a camel, although it is a leaper piece in that variant. It is however located near the bishop-like piece. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 11:34, 31 January 2019 (UTC)


Where does the -umen come from? Our English etymology -and the RAE for that matter- only say "from Latin cera". Ultimateria (talk) 03:09, 22 January 2019 (UTC)

The Online Etymology Dictionary has this to say:
coined by Swiss anatomist Gaspard Bauhin (1560-1624) from Latin cera "wax" (see cero-) on model of albumen; or else from Greek keroumenos "formed of wax."
The dual theory indicates that these are guesses; I wouldn’t know why Bauhin’s supposed model was specifically albumen and not velumen or bitumen, but in any case, the u in these words comes from the first component: albumen = albu- + -men. A regular Latin form would have been *ceramen. Although we find a u in the diminutive cerula (“little piece of wax”), it comes from the diminutive suffix -ula. As far as I can see, the putative Greek word *κηρούμενος is not attested.  --Lambiam 14:05, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
    • AFAIK, I would use both in Galician cerume and cerame, although the latter sounds romance creation. Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 16:56, 22 January 2019 (UTC)

What about caerūmen as a medievalism, which is what WT says is the origin of French cérumen? Kevlar67 (talk) 23:09, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

RFV: NL halsstarrig[edit]

From hals +‎ star +‎ -ig. Any doubt? Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 16:57, 22 January 2019 (UTC)

It's equivalent to that, but according to Philippa et al it is borrowed from German. I've expanded your etymology. — Mnemosientje (t · c) 17:06, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
(For future reference, by the way, http://www.etymologiebank.nl is great for Dutch etymologies: it indexes a host of etymological dictionaries, including the reliable ones.) — Mnemosientje (t · c) 17:09, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Thanks. Unfortunately my Dutch doesn't reach so far, but I'll try. Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 20:56, 22 January 2019 (UTC)

Etymology of Chinese for rhea[edit]

The Chinese word for rhea (the bird) is 鶆䴈. The first character on its own is apparently a bird of prey similar to an eagle (according to a Chinese-Vietnamese dictionary). I was unable to find the meaning of the second character alone.

Rheas are not birds of prey, so is 鶆䴈 descriptive or a phonetic transcription of "rhea"? I am leaning towards the latter but am not sure. (I am not a fluent Chinese speaker, by the way.) Corsicanwarrah (talk) 21:57, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

Our etymology section says, “From English rhea.” I guess that means, “Borrowed from English rhea.” So it should be in the same category as loanwords like 加侖 and 夾克.  --Lambiam 01:37, 27 January 2019 (UTC)

Did the Vietnamese for wolf originally mean 'dhole'?[edit]

The Vietnamese word for wolf is (chó) sói. As far as I know, true wolves (i.e. grey wolves) are not native to Vietnam or any Southeast Asian country for that matter. However, dholes (which take the niche of wolves in many countries where dholes but not wolves are present) are native to Vietnam. The modern Vietnamese word for 'dhole' is sói lửa, or "fire wolf". Now I'm curious; did sói originally mean "dhole" in Vietnamese?

There's an entry for the Proto-Vietic word for 'wolf'ː k-rɔːrʔ. Now things get even more confusing. Did that word originally mean "dhole"?

See this mapː https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grey_wolf_distribution_with_subdivisions.PNG Southeast Asia has no native wolf population and has never had one.

--Corsicanwarrah (talk) 17:48, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

Wolves are definitely dholes. --{{victar|talk}} 01:11, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
For real, do you know how to respond to my question? --Corsicanwarrah (talk) 12:46, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
Nope. P.S. Say "Hi" to Ruffles for me. --{{victar|talk}} 21:59, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
What about chó rừng, chó sói lửa. Can you break down the meaning of each of those words? Kevlar67 (talk) If lửa is 'fire' then cho soi lua means "fire worlf" for dhole and if rừng means "forest", then cho rung is "fire dog" for dhole. 21:31, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
Judging by how, 1., taxonomic genera are often associated with European type species (those first observed by the European naturalists who systematized taxonomy), and 2., how English vernacular names were applied to somewhat similar New World and Austronesian species, it is very plausible that old Vietnamese words now referring to any wolf-like creature originally referred to the native wolf (or wolf-like) species, ie, dhole. OTOH, borrowing from other languages is possible, especially where trade is common (oceans, lakes, rivers).
Modifiers of generic vernacular names to get names for kinds focuses on differentiating characteristics of many kinds. Fire is a very good example. Consider:
fire salamander (usually unnoticed until driven from a log by fire)
fire beetle (light, attraction to fire light)
fire cherry (fruit color)
fire coral, fire medusa, fire ant, fire eel (sting)
fire dog (Dalmatian) (associated with fire engines in US)
firefly (light)
fire bean, firebush, firethorn (flower color)
fire finch, fire lily, fire-tree (color)
firefish (sting, venom, color)
fire hangbird (wing-patch color)
fire-weed, fire fungus, fire lily, fire willow (thriving after forest fires)
Judging from the pictures at Commons-logo.svg Cuon alpinus on Wikimedia Commons.Wikimedia Commons , color seems the relevant attribute for the dhole. DCDuring (talk) 23:43, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
I wouldn't write off Canis lupus just yet. First of all, the range of the species has been shrinking since before recorded history, so it's hard to be sure what it was at the time of Proto-Vietic (there are remains from thousands of years ago in Vietnam, although those are apparently dog rather than wolf). Also, it's hard to be sure exactly where the proto-language was spoken, though it was probably somewhere in Southeast Asia. The most common pattern for vernacular names is that they first refer to a specific organism, then similar organisms get named after the original one, but with a qualifier to distinguish them from it. If the term originally referred to Canis lupus, one would expect other wolf-like species to be have it in their names and for them to have a qualifier- such as the word for fire here. Of course, there are all kinds of exceptions, but that's the most common pattern. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:25, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

pontianac, pontianak[edit]

Are these etymologically related? DTLHS (talk) 22:54, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

Quite plausible, just based on this from Britannica 1911 (links, synonyms, etc. added):
Among the inferior substitutes for gutta percha may be mentioned the evaporated latices derived from Butyrospermum parkii [(syn. Vitellaria paradoxa] (shea butter tree [(shea tree)] of West Africa or karite of the Sudan), Calotropis gigantea (madar tree of India), and species:Dyera costulata [(jelutong#English)] of Malaya and Borneo, which furnishes the material known as “Pontianac.”
Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Pontianak on Wikipedia.Wikipedia shows that it is the name of a port city in Borneo. Many raw materials are named after the ports from which shipments originated. According to WP the city is named after the supernatural figure. DCDuring (talk) 23:33, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, I have added them as related terms at least. DTLHS (talk) 23:41, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
I've linked Pontianak, pontianak, and pontianac as best I can. DCDuring (talk) 03:05, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
Here are three cites using Pontianac spelled with a c for the placename: [6], [7], [8].  --Lambiam 14:43, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

RFV: PIE Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱem- (hornless or dark?)[edit]

scant#Etymology 1


Which one (if not both) of the meanings? Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 07:53, 30 January 2019 (UTC)

Pokorny lists k̑em- “hornless (normally horned) animal” and k̑em- “to wrap, cover, conceal” as homonyms. Only for the first is (s)k̑em- given as an alternative form.  --Lambiam 09:08, 31 January 2019 (UTC)


Is the Belarusian version from A) Old East Slavic Володимѣръ (Volodiměrŭ) in which case cognate to Ukrainian Володимир (Volodymyr) or B) from Old Church Slavonic Владимѣръ (Vladiměrŭ), in which case cognate to Russian Влади́мир (Vladímir)? Kevlar67 (talk) 23:02, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

According to the Wikipedia article Vladimir (name), Володимѣръ and Владимѣръ are cognates, and Vladimir the Great is called Володимѣръ Свѧтославичь in Old East Slavic. The Russian city of Владимир is called Уладзімір in Belarusian. Based on the pronunciation, Old Church Slavonic Vladiměr seems a more likely immediate predecessor of Уладзімер than Old East Slavic Volodiměr. Also, it is likely that the process in Russian of replacing the older Old East Slavic name Volodiměr by the Old Church Slavonic version that then turned into Vladimir, worked the same way to yield Belarusian Uladzimyer.  --Lambiam 10:55, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

February 2019


Forgive my ignorance here, but why did Dutch glas become 「ガラス」, whereas English glass became 「グラス」? Does it have to do with the Japanese transliteration process for gairaigo being somewhat different at the time? If so, why did a consonant following a consonant result in a medial /u/ in other cases when borrowed into Japanese, even in those times? Tharthan (talk) 15:43, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

I’ll forgive your ignorance if you’ll forgive mine. 「ガラス」is the odd man out, since /u/ appears to be the norm for a “filler vowel”, except for /o/ after a /t/ or /d/ in the source language. Perhaps the divergent transliteration for the material served to disambiguate from the word for the vessel – a theory that will be busted if 「ガラス」 is older than 「グラス」. For a similar situation, compare 「カラン」 (from Dutch kraan) with 「クラン」 (from English clan).  --Lambiam 02:35, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Didn't the Dutch make contact with the Japanese before English speakers did? mellohi! (僕の乖離) 10:24 am, Today (UTC−5)
Well, I am almost certain (actually, I only say "almost" in this particular instance to cover myself, just in case) that 「ガラス」 is older than 「グラス」. I say this because the time when Dutch contact first allowed 「ガラス」 to come into Japanese predates direct English contact with Japan. And, from what I understand, 「グラス」 is believed to have been borrowed from English. Tharthan (talk) 18:25, 3 February 2019 (UTC)


What is the etymology of , may I ask? Johnny Shiz (talk) 23:24, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

Is the Amis word for 'cat' native or a loanword?[edit]

I am referring to pusi.

Were domestic cats kept in Taiwan prior to the Europeans and Chinese coming there? The word sounds like it might be a loan of the English pussy. (Many languages with no native word for "cat" loan the English "pussy".) However, I recall reading that the Malagasy fosa (source of English fossa), may be derived from the Iban posa, meaning "cat". See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossa_(animal)#Etymology.

Is there a Proto-Austronesian word for the domestic cat? Therefore, is the Amis word for "cat" native or a loanword?

--Corsicanwarrah (talk) 11:51, 4 February 2019 (UTC)


Is this by any chance a phonetic transcription of the English mongoose? --Corsicanwarrah (talk) 15:04, 5 February 2019 (UTC)

Well, India is a lot closer to China than the US, so a trans-Himalayan borrowing is also a possibility. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:44, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
@Corsicanwarrah, Chuck Entz: That is possible, but it seems to be a relatively recent word, seeing that its use for "mongoose" is not attested in ancient dictionaries such as the Kangxi Dictionary. We'd need more investigation to be sure. — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 05:10, 13 February 2019 (UTC)


Help from a Sinhalese speaker would be welcome at koha (the koel (Eudynamys), a genus of cuckoos from Asia, Australia, and the Pacific with a distinctive loud call). Thanks. — SGconlaw (talk) 19:59, 5 February 2019 (UTC)

@AryamanA has helped with Sinhalese before. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:47, 5 February 2019 (UTC)


I suspect this word, both in English and Dutch, derives from Russian. Practically all of the early uses relate to the Soviet Union, which had several clinics or other institutes referred to as abortoriums. Does anybody know what the Russian term is? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 12:08, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

I think it is аборторий (used e.g. on this page).  --Lambiam 13:16, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks. That particular spelling seems rare, but абортарий is quite common on Google Books. There are several results for the 1930s, but not anything that clearly sets it apart as earlier than the English or Dutch words. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 15:36, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
The poem I linked to actually contains both spellings, with the spelling абортарий in a long quote from a poem by Joseph Brodsky (“Poet B”).  --Lambiam 04:41, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

Etymology of лишь[edit]

I noticed лишь has no etymology. I had a look at the Russian Wiktionary entry and it reads «Происходит от др.-русск. лише «больше, кроме, лишь» (Лаврентьевск. летоп., Ипатьевск, летоп.); ср.: лишо (Аввакум). Первоначально — сравн. степ. ср. р. *лише от лихъ (лихой).Использованы данные словаря М. Фасмера. См. Список литературы.» under Etymology. The first step, I figured out, is Old East Slavic лише «больше (more), кроме (except), лишь (only)». Then we have "степ. ср. р." *лише from лихъ as a comparandum, whatever language that is. Let me finish decrypting this and then I'll be back. Anyway, is this accurate? And can we go from OES to Proto-Slavic and maybe PIE? MGorrone (talk) 11:05, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

«Лаврентьевская летопись, Ипатьевская летопись» in brackets are two chronicles, presumably usage examples of the OES word. MGorrone (talk) 11:08, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

Аввакум is the prophet Habakkuk, presumably a translation of the book was done into OES using the alternate form (?) лишо we are given here as a comparandum. MGorrone (talk) 11:10, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

«Первоначально — сравн. степ. ср. р. *лише от лихъ (лихой)» seems to mean «Originally – cfr. neuter gender *лише from лихъ (лихой)». Then we are told, in a smaller font, that this data is (partly?) from the dictionary by М. Фасмера, and to see the references. MGorrone (talk) 11:18, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

Here’s the relevant entry from Vasmer’s dictionary; it doesn’t really add anything to what you’ve said above. The ESSJa, however, gives much more information under its reconstruction of Proto-Slavic *liše. — Vorziblix (talk · contribs) 18:15, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

the mother of all etymologies[edit]

Our entry says "something that is the greatest or most significant of its kind" is a calque of Arabic, unrelated to the female parent sense and its extended senses (including "a source or origin"). But at least some other dictionaries like Merriam-Webster cover this sense under the same etymology as the parental sense, and a similar sense exists for other parental words, e.g. google books:"the swirling Devil's Bathtub, the grand-daddy of all potholes", google books:"the grandfather of all recessions", or google books:"the father of all battles". (Hits for the latter phrase suggest it may be influenced by a term/phrase in some African language, the way "the mother of all battles" may be influenced by Arabic, but then the same sense exists in google books:"father of all depressions", and a different word exists in google books:"grandfather of all battles", etc.) Should these senses therefore be handled under the same etymology section as the 'parental' senses, as merely being influenced in some cases by Arabic, etc? - -sche (discuss) 17:35, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

Given that we have the entry mother of all, I do not understand why we should need a separate etymology for the word mother used exclusively in that idiomatic phrase. I don’t see where it says that this is unrelated to the female parent sense and its extended senses, but clearly “a source or origin” does not fit: “the mother of all bombs” does not mean “the source or origin of all bombs”. The meaning is clearly “the most prominent”, which is not readily reducible to the parental sense. It is used in that sense already in the Qur’an in the designation أَمّ القُرَى (ʾUmm al-Qurā) (“Mother of Cities”) for Mecca.  --Lambiam 21:11, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

RFV: shanty[edit]

It says it's from French, but wikipedia:Lace curtain and shanty Irish says t'is from Irish seanteach. Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 00:47, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

I'm inclined towards the French etymology. Slapped a Citation needed tag for that Irish theory (and if nothing materializes in a few weeks, I will delete it entirely). mellohi! (僕の乖離) 01:12, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
This blog post and a follow-up aim to debunk the Irish theory. An article in the bilingual multi-tome book Lexikologie/Lexicology (subtitled “An international handbook on the nature and structure of words and vocabularies”), presenting the Irish theory as a borrowing of the genitive of sean teach, viz. sean tí, argues that “the oblique case militates against the Irish interpretation”. As to our etymology, perhaps we should add s.t. like “An alternative theory that the word derives from Irish sean (meaning "of an old house") is not considered likely by lexicologists.”  --Lambiam 11:21, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
I like Lambian's wording. DCDuring (talk) 17:41, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
That sounds good. In general if an etymology is moderately common but debunked I think we can do our readers a service by mentioning that (collapsed to save space if necessary, although in this case it's so short that's not necessary). - -sche (discuss) 04:09, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
Added. 10:05, 14 February 2019 (UTC)


Where does this word come from? PIE, I'm assuming? Johnny Shiz (talk) 01:47, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

Just тотъ (tot), well-known, with the expressive prefix э- (e-), also well-known, found (still) in other pronouns like э́такой, этакій (étakoj, etakij), and э́какой, э́какій (ékakoj, ékakij), and fashionable in the end of the nineteenth century. You would know this if you read dramas or similar texts in Russian from this time. You would also know that until then сей (sej) was usually employed in formal speech instead of этот (etot).
In what regards тотъ (tot), it contains now, as it and all adjectives in Russian and other Slavic languages, *tъ plus another demonstrative *jь that was becoming archaic in the end of Proto-Slavic and is best attested in the relative pronoun иже (iže) (though apparently the nominative singular masculine form, the citation form тотъ has something else mixed into it, as has also happened in the nominative singular masculine in the West Slavic languages). This definitive clitic served for an (attested) intermediate period for a weak distinction between definite indefinite nouns expressed only in their adjective attributes (like English “the” and “an”, determinate state and indeterminate state and so on), still weakly distinguished in some forms of the Serbo-Croatian adjectives, hence pages like lȁgan contain in the table ”positive indefinite forms” and “positive definite forms”. Fay Freak (talk) 02:16, 9 February 2019 (UTC)


The etymology section of catenary states that it derives from Late Latin catenaria, which is a noun. I have no reason to doubt that this etymology holds for the noun, but wouldn’t the adjective more likely come straight from the Latin adjective catenarius (see catenarius in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press)?  --Lambiam 12:38, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

who thinks PSl. *kъnędzь is native?[edit]

At *kъnędzь someone has recorded the idea that this word was formed in Proto-Slavic (*kun-ingo-) and borrowed into Germanic, instead of the other way round. Whose theory is this, and are they credible? 4pq1injbok (talk) 23:22, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

The idea is apparently taken from this page of the Etymological Dictionary of Slavic Languages, where it’s credited to Šimon Ondruš’s 1977 paper “Sú slovanské slová kъnędzь a pěnędzь germánskeho pôvodu?” Unfortunately I don’t have access to this paper, so I can’t judge Ondruš’s arguments, but his view is certainly in the minority. — Vorziblix (talk · contribs) 00:07, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
The Germanic loanwords in Proto-Slavic betray a very distinct power and technological imbalance in favour of the early Germanic speakers (cf. Saskia Pronk-Tiethoff's 2013 publication on the subject), so I would find it very strange indeed if such a general term pertaining to political hierarchy would be borrowed from Slavic to Germanic at this stage rather than the other way around (Slavic loanwords in early Germanic languages tend to be very, very scarce and not pertain to political lexical fields at all). It's made even more dubious by the fact that there seems to not have been any direct lexical exchanges between Proto-Germanic and Proto-Slavic at all (our Category:Proto-Slavic terms borrowed from Proto-Germanic is dubious IMO; all of those should list "from a Germanic language" instead or be specified as -mostly- OHG and Gothic where known), and the first language contact was established by the Goths or closely related East-Germanic speaking groups migrating towards the Pontic area in the first couple of centuries AD. (And as it happens, there is no known East Germanic reflex of *kuningaz.) Finally, the Germanic word follows a very logical derivation pattern (also semantically) with a well-attested and productive suffix, so there really is no reason to consider it borrowed. — Mnemosientje (t · c) 08:11, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
(Cf. also *korljь, a closely related loanword from Germanic in Slavic meaning "king".) — Mnemosientje (t · c) 08:33, 10 February 2019 (UTC)


The etymology of forlorn forgets to mention the essential info that it is apparently cognate with lose but does say that it comes from Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/fraleusaną, which comes from fra- + Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/leusaną. This supposedly comes from Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/lewH-, but that supposedly means louse. --Espoo (talk) 10:10, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

forlorn hope[edit]

The etymology section says “From forlorn + hope, in part-translation of Dutch verloren hoop ‘lost troop’.” What is the meaning of “part-translation”?  --Lambiam 22:01, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

The meaning is that someone couldn't think of a better way to describe it, so they made something up. It looks to me like it started out as a calque, with the second half mistaken for an unrelated English word and the meaning changed to match it- phono-semantic mismatching? Chuck Entz (talk) 22:18, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
I have modified the etymology to say “partially translated, partially borrowed”. As the Dutch word can also (with a different etymology) mean hope, I find it hard to characterize the type of mismatch/misunderstanding/mistranslation. Wikipedia calls it “an example of false folk etymology” (as opposed to true folk etymology?), quoting the description “a quaint misunderstanding” from The American Heritage Dictionary. It is easy, though, to see how also Dutch speakers would be able and perhaps even likely to misunderstand the sense of the word “hoop” in this expression.  --Lambiam 10:08, 11 February 2019 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology. It seems unlikely that a verb with this meaning would come from a noun meaning "garden". The Online Etymology Dictionary has nothing. —Mahāgaja · talk 12:04, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

OED doesn't have it either, despite the "reference". This is a made-up word from what I can tell. Did some Google Books checking just to be sure and found scanno's; I've removed the entry. — Mnemosientje (t · c) 12:15, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

Greek from[edit]

For the words in Category:Greek terms inherited from Proto-Hellenic and in Category:Greek terms inherited from Proto-Indo-European, am I right to assume that {inh was used by accident instead of {der...? (Greek here means Modern Greek). Would it be wrong to change them? sarri.greek (talk) 15:30, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

If there is an unbroken chain of inheritance, like Modern Greek ήλιος (ílios) < Ancient Greek ἥλιος (hḗlios) < Proto-Hellenic *hāwélios, then {{inherited}} is the template to use. In mathematical terms, the inheritance relation is transitive. So it is not used by accident. Whether the inheritance assumptions are actually etymologically correct is another question. For instance, it is probably not the case that Greek ακουστικός (akoustikós) was directly inherited from Ancient Greek ἀκουστικός (akoustikós), however plausible that might seem at first glance. But actually, the word was probably borrowed from French, which borrowed it from Ancient Greek.  --Lambiam 23:33, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Ow ok, thank you Lambiam. It looked as though I have met the Pelasgoi. sarri.greek (talk) 00:35, 13 February 2019 (UTC)


Related to 孑孓? Johnny Shiz (talk) 20:03, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

Unfortunately the characters in the heading don’t display. Apparently, no font able to handle block CJK Unified Ideographs Extension B is installed by default on Mojave. Any hints on what I can do about that? I suspect that there are others who have the same problem.  --Lambiam 23:19, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
I get some Google hits for 孓孑, like here. I don’t know if that is a misspelling or an existing variant.  --Lambiam 23:19, 12 February 2019 (UTC)


Persian امرود(amrud), ارمود(armud, pear) (whence, it is said, the Turkic forms like Turkish armut (pear) (whence regional Arabic Arabic عَرْمُوط(ʿarmūṭ, pear))) is put here as from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ébōl (apple). However this derivation is added by Irman, and the Indo-European reconstruction is, as said on Wiktionary and is according to my memory correct, “limited to the West Indo-European languages”, and the juxtaposition looks formally unsound. Hindustani امرود‎ / अमरूद (amrūd, guava) (the direct (?) source of regional Arabic عَنْبَرُوت(ʿanbarūt), عَنْبَرُود(ʿanbarūd, papaya) is put on Wiktionary as from the Persian apparently guesswise (Talk:अमरूद). Behnstedt, Peter; Woidich, Manfred, editors (2010) Wortatlas der arabischen Dialekte – Band I: Mensch, Natur, Fauna und Flora (Handbook of Oriental Studies – Handbuch der Orientalistik; 100) (in German), Leiden: Brill, page 500 puts it as a Mongolian loanword, referring only an encyclopedia published 1987 in Aleppo مَوْسُوعَة حَلَب الْمُقَارَنَة (mawsūʿa(t) ḥalab al-muqārana) by a certain خَيْرُ ٱلدِّين الْأَسَدِي (ḵayru d-dīn al-ʾasadī) – the way it is referred it is unclear if this encyclopedia says that it is from Mongolic or only that the Arabic is from Turkish, however it should be found elsewhere, but I have not succeeded in gaining further information, on Mongolic forms or the like. @Victar, Crom daba. Fay Freak (talk) 13:39, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

Räsänen notes it's attested in Turkish, Azerbaijani, Old Turkic, Cuman and Siberian Tatar. However Clauson doesn't have it.
As far as I can tell without trawling through obscure sources, this word doesn't exist in any Mongolic variety (maybe Mogholi trivially, haven't checked). If this idea isn't a result of a more banal error, maybe the author conjured up a connection with алимууд (alimuud, apples), which would be semantically, phonologically and morphologically untenable.
Thus the origins of the word should be sought in the Near East. Crom daba (talk) 15:49, 13 February 2019 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology.

We've been having a bit of a dispute/edit war with User:Aletguda over whether to to give Eduard Sievers credit for introducing the term. It's true that it was in use in German as the transliteration of a Hebrew term for a type of reduced vowel in Hebrew, and that Sievers based his term on the Hebrew term. It seems to me that the earlier usage is strictly about Hebrew, and Sievers' usage is also about the vowel referred to in English as the schwa. I think Sievers deserves credit, though he wasn't the first to use Schwa in German. Perhaps we need to split this into two etymologies. At any rate, my main concern was about the unilateral removal of content- I haven't read enough about the issue to be 100% sure that I'm right. I just think we need to discuss this. Chuck Entz (talk) 22:41, 16 February 2019 (UTC)

The quotes in Schwa from 1791 and 1856 show that the German term is much older than Sievers and 1876 or 1893. Considering forms like Schva and Schva it's even more older.
Additionally, the Sievers quote only shows that he mentions or used the term, and doesn't proof he was the first to do so. In fact, out of context the part "jetzt auch wohl schlechthin Schwa genannt" could be understood as "now probably also simply called Schwa [by others]". --Aletguda (talk) 23:00, 16 February 2019 (UTC)
That is not being disputed. The issue is: who was the first to use the term Schwa, not as a transliteration of the Hebrew word שְׁוָא‬‎ referring to the niqqud sign, but as a name for the mid-central vowel /ə/? The term actually occurs in the phonetic sense in an article by Ernst Chladni from 1824 entitled über die Hervorbringung der menschlichen Sprachlaute, published before Sievers was even born. Chladni’s choice of words strongly suggests that he is not the coiner, since he writes on p. 195 that the name, borrowed from Hebrew, has also been retained in German by “some of the better authors”. In any case, a special credit for Sievers is unwarranted.
Apart from whom is due what, the German word Schwa has two distinct senses: the niqqud sense and the phonetic sense. These need to be listed as separate senses.  --Lambiam 02:06, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

Poopy suit[edit]

A “poopy suit” is a head to toe Chemical, Biological, Nuclear Warfare protection suit.

It’s name is nothing more than a physical fact.

Once put on, there is no access to relieve oneself, for as long as the threat exists.

If you gotta go, it will be inside the suit.