Wiktionary:Etymology scriptorium/2016/November

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When was this coined? Our entry previously claimed the 1960s, but Merriam-Webster agrees with a 1990-1995 date. (WP says Morning Glory's article actually uses "poly-amorous".) - -sche (discuss) 19:55, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

Another question: Why was this coined when we already have the word polygamous? --WikiTiki89 20:41, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
Because they're not synonyms. Polygamy is any situation where more than two people are in a marriage relationship. Polyamory is where they are in a romantic or sexual relationship, but there is not necessarily a contractual aspect. In theory, polygamy is a subset of polyamory, but that may be taking an optimistic view of polygamy. --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 20:52, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
@Catsidhe: Why is that monogamous can refer to unmarried couples, but polygamous cannot refer to unmarried groups of people? --WikiTiki89 21:07, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
Or to rephrase that in a more descriptivistically correct way: Why is it that monogamous was applied to unmarried relationships, but polygamous was not? --WikiTiki89 21:11, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
Historic and semantic baggage, or, "because it just did". Specifically, polygamous has strong overtones of polyandrous, the strongly structured form of marriage with one husband and several wives (such as in fundamentalist Mormonism or Islam). So polyamorous was coined to describe a less structured relationship structure, where there might be several male and female partners. Also, polygamy usually refers to a contractual, state- or religion- recognised, formal arrangement, where polyamory might be formal and contractual, or ad-hoc and informal, or any state inbetween. Whereas the monogamy/polygamy distinction is older, and from before the theories which underlie polyamory as a thing. So in that understanding, the distinction is between a marriage between two people, and a marriage involving more than one person. And, in the West, monogamy being the norm, it spread in meaning to include any relationship between two people exclusively, as opposed to any other arrangement, including adultery (which is polyamorous in the sense that there are more than one person in the relationship, but strongly frowned upon in the modern polyamory movement because it's a breach of trust), concubinage, mistresses/lovers, or any other polyamorous arrangement, whether polygamous (involving some contract of marriage) or not. Which is to say: monogamy implicitly subsumes monamory as a meaning, whereas polygamy is a subset of the range of relationships covered by polyamory. --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 21:46, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
I think you confused polyandrous with polygynous, but other than that, I guess you're right that the people who coined polyamory didn't want the negative baggage of polygamy, while the people who first applied monogamous to unmarried relationships probably wanted to keep the existing positive connotations. --WikiTiki89 21:59, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
I remember when the current use of the word came out (--not saying, though, that it didn't already exist prior) but I recall it being used loosely as a deflection/euphemism for gay: for instance, a homosexual would say "I am polyamorous" to deflect the stigma of being gay. On a stricter note, it means having attraction to all sexes or multiple partners equally. Leasnam (talk) 02:51, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
Huh, I didn't know it had anything to do with sexual orientation. --WikiTiki89 14:36, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
I've certainly never heard that, and nowadays I think being polyamorous carries more of a stigma than being gay does. Leasnam's "stricter note" sounds to me like the definition of pansexual. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 17:42, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
Exactly. There may be significant overlap in that many people who are polyamorous may also define themselves as pansexual (and even pangender or some other flavour of nonbinary gender identity!), but that does not mean that these terms all refer to the same thing. There's a lot of overlap between polyamory and kink, too, for example. Once you deviate from heteronormative patterns in one way, the barrier to deviate in other ways becomes a lot lower.
Understandably, polyamory appeals to people of a general anarchist or libertarian disposition (cf. relationship anarchism, and the good old libertine), who generally don't seem to care much about stigma, and considering how obscure the term polyamorous still is in the wider world (outside various subcultures), the idea that its stigma should be bigger than that of gay strikes me as bizarre – at most, polys and pansexuals have acquired a reputation of being pompous and condescending, enamoured with their own intelligence, open-mindedness and progressiveness ("we have evolved past your petty morals and such backward notions as marriage, jealousy, or gender"), and possibly even hypersexual, overbearing and exploitative or predatory. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 17:20, 5 December 2016 (UTC)


It's pretty obvious that the Baltic terms are related to the Slavic one in some way, but I'm having difficulty figuring out the common preform. The Lithuanian term has an e-grade syllable (PIE ew > BS jau), and the Latvian also reflects this, but the j has regularly merged into the preceding velar, giving a palatal stop. Slavic on the other hand has an o-grade syllable (with PIE ow > BS au > Slavic u); the j of the e-grade would palatalise like in Latvian, giving **čuna instead. Then there's the matter of the inflection class, -ė (which I don't know the PIE origin of) or -a. Does anyone have any ideas? —CodeCat 22:05, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

-ė comes from -iyā/-iyē, see Stang's comparative Baltic grammar for details.
Maybe it's a substrate word or something? Vasmer also mentions an Old Frisian cona supposedly borrowed from Old East Slavic, maybe that's worth checking out. Crom daba (talk) 00:14, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

Catalan and Spanish follar[edit]

The etymology dates back to the creation of the entry by an IP. Said to come from Vulgar Latin fullāre, but without further explanation. I don't know any word in Latin that resembles this, apart from fullō. Admittedly, that doesn't necessarily mean that there is no such word, but... --Fsojic (talk) 12:14, 2 November 2016 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology. The Latin voco as we show it doesn't appear to have anything to do with rowing. Etymology Online states the Italian word has the same origin as the French. Leasnam (talk) 13:29, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

Here's what the Real Academia Espanola has about the Spanish cognate: [1] Hillcrest98 (talk) 14:25, 3 November 2016 (UTC)
Hmm, not sure I fully trust that one. Seems a bit outlier-y to me, like a derivation looking for an etymology :D Leasnam (talk) 01:19, 4 November 2016 (UTC)
The Dizionario Etimologico Online could be helpful [2]? Epantaleo
I don't know if I agree with you on that. The majority of sources in different languages' available etymological dictionaries do point to Latin 'vocare' as being the probable, or at least possible, source of vogare/vogar/bogar, etc (one of the few exceptions being the Dizionario Etimologico Online, which is an older source; the TLFi mentions also several possibilities). The meaning would have shifted from "to call" to "to row" because of the call that the rowers would make with each row of the oar on ancient ships, to the beat of the drum. I don't think it's that big of a semantic leap; there are many other occasions where a broader Latin term becomes specialized in Vulgar Latin or proto-Romance. Some say it would have at least come through a Medieval Latin intermediate, 'vogare' (but then there's also Sicilian 'vucari'). I'm not saying that the Germanic theory is any less valid, but I think at least both of these should be mentioned instead of just deleting a prominent viewpoint on these etymologies. One problem, however, is how to treat Italian 'vocare': whether it's a natural doublet of 'vogare' or perhaps a later borrowing. Word dewd544 (talk) 21:54, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Etymology of "ballot"[edit]

@Word dewd544 applied {{bor}} to ballot (see this change). I'm not an expert on etymology – when should {{bor}} and {{der}} be used? I thought ballot is a derivation of Italian balota or ballotta rather than a borrowing because the word was adopted from Italian some time ago (the earliest definition in the OED is from the 16th century), and because of the change in form. — SMUconlaw (talk) 15:57, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

{{der}} should be used if the word was borrowed into a previous form of a language, (in this case that would be Middle English, but 16th century English is considered early modern so {{bor}} should be used here). Other situation in which we use {{der}} is when a word has been changed substantively through compounding or suffixing or other forms of derivation. In this case, the form of the word has been changed, but this is just a normal loanword adaptation rather derivation so {{bor}} is the right choice. Crom daba (talk) 19:30, 3 November 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying. — SMUconlaw (talk) 22:06, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

Old Irish tlacht[edit]

The combination tl- seems like it can come only from a root in zero grade, so I wonder if this is from *telh₂-. The meaning doesn't seem to quite match up though, and I don't know where the -cht part comes from. —CodeCat 20:51, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

Old Irish dlongid[edit]

This is a nasal-infix verb, which implies a zero-grade root. Its participle is attested as dlocht, and t-participles are also formed from zero grades in PIE; the verbal noun is dluige. All of this points to an -u- as the root vowel, thus Proto-Celtic *dlungeti, *dluxtos, *dlugyo-. It can't be -o- because we know it's a zero grade. However, I can't seem to come up with any kind of PIE root that would give these forms. The nasal infix is always inserted before the final consonant, so that would lead to a root with the zero-grade shape *dlwg-. The only possible full-grade form is then *dlewg-, since onset and coda can't contain multiple sonorants. This initial dl- seems very odd, and I don't think I've ever seen that in a PIE root before. So I wonder if someone else can figure this out? Are there perhaps other sources/attestations pointing to such a strange root shape? —CodeCat 21:12, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

Matasovic likes *dlongeti and *dlogyo- from *delgʰ- (hew) (whence also Old Norse telgja, Lithuanian dal̃gis). LIV has this also but is very hesitant about this due to the lack of motivation of PIE *l̥ > PC li > *lo. —JohnC5 21:42, 3 November 2016 (UTC)
There's a PIE word *dl̥h₁gʰós. Any relation? KarikaSlayer (talk) 03:04, 4 November 2016 (UTC)
Probably not (it may belong to a root *delh₁- "to lengthen"). Schumacher (2004, s. v. *dlu-n-g-e/o-) comes to the same conclusion as @CodeCat, and does not find any of the suggested extra-Celtic cognates compelling. It is true that the combination "alveolar stop" + /l/ appears to be unattested in PIE verbal roots, unless *dʰlegʰ- is valid. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:43, 5 December 2016 (UTC)


Is it known why the of PIE changed to m in this word? —CodeCat 21:18, 4 November 2016 (UTC)

Matasović says it "is best explained as the result of assimilation (n...bʰ > n...m)", which to me is no "explanation" at all but merely naming the phenomenon. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 14:15, 5 November 2016 (UTC)
Well, "n...bʰ > n...m" is naming the phenomenon, but "assimiliation" is an explanation -- a random one admittedly. Kolmiel (talk) 18:43, 5 November 2016 (UTC)
Does the explanation above mean that *nebʰos became *nembʰos and then *nemos ? Leasnam (talk) 03:37, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
No; more likely the was simply replaced by the m. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 19:04, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
Per *nébʰos, the same change appears to have happened in Iranian, which makes the explanation a little less arbitrary. I wonder if there are any similar examples in Celtic. Eugen Hill is of the opinion that remote dissimilations and assimilations are regular sound changes too (even if frequently obscured by analogical reformation in most cases where they applied) and postulating them requires finding parallel cases, like in any regular sound change, to make them plausible (and not just possible) explanations. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:27, 5 December 2016 (UTC)


booru#Etymology says

Japanese form of English board, or formed from Danbooru cardboard box (a particular imageboard software product).
(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium. Particularly: “not sure about this”)

Equinox (talkcontribs) added "not sure about this"  ({{rfe|not sure about this|lang=en}})  (diff) on 8 March 2012. I'm a linguist ( my user page) and fairly familiar with the adoption of English words into Japanese. In the 1990s, as senior linguist for Dragon Systems, I developed a program to analyze katakana strings and generate a likelihood-ordered list of English words that they might represent.

While I don't know Japanese, I know a fair bit about it. I'm pretty familiar with the way it adapts English words to its phonology, and booru (= bōru; see Romanization of Japanese, § Long vowels) is not too unlikely as a borrowing of board.

The most common forms seem to be boodo (ボード) and boorudo (ボールド). However, ボール紙 booru-shi is used for "cardboard" or "paperboard" in jp.wikipedia. I think that board is a likely source for booru. --Thnidu (talk) 04:11, 5 November 2016 (UTC)

段ボール (danbooru, corrugated cardboard). —suzukaze (tc) 00:14, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
  • I've formatted a bit and added the JA etymon; however, I have no familiarity with the term booru as English. @Equinox, please have a look and determine if the RFE tag is still appropriate. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 17:05, 14 December 2016 (UTC)
  • Possible, but unlikely: all JA sources that I've consulted so far consistently source this to English board, with no connection to French. C.f. this Kotobank page showing entries from multiple dictionaries and encyclopedias. The two relevant entries (i.e. not the ones for ball or Ball or bowl, etc.) from Daijirin and Daijisen list this as 《boardから》 ("from board") or 〔board の転〕 ("shift from board"). This jives with my dead-tree Shogakukan (英boardから → from English board) and Shinmeikai (board の変化 → change from board), and related entries in the NHK Pronunciation Accent Dictionary.
The phonology might seem odd, but for Japanese, this kind of truncation isn't too uncommon; there's a general tendency towards two-syllable, even two-morae, constructions, such as パーソナルコンピューター (pāsonaru konpyūtā) shortening radically to パソコン (pasokon), or マクドナルド (makudonarudo) shortening to マクド (makudo). I can easily see ボールド (bōrudo) truncating to ボール (bōru) in unambiguous contexts. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 22:22, 14 December 2016 (UTC)
But "board" shouldn't give ボールド (bōrudo) in the first place, as Japanese invariably uses nonrhotic English as its source. Dutch boord and maybe (if the vowel length can be explained away) German Bord or Portuguese bordo could be the source of a ボールド (bōrudo) (and is that hypothetical or attested?) but it would be unprecedented for English board to be the source. And Japanese truncation usually exploits vowel shortening before it starts deleting things, so if they wanted to reduce ボールド (bōrudo) to three moras, surely ボルド (borudo) would be the truncation of choice, wouldn't it? Still, if that's what all the published sources say, that's what we need to report, however unlikely it seems. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 22:44, 14 December 2016 (UTC)
  • Not invariably: コンコルド (konkorudo, Concorde), フィヨルド (fiyorudo, fjord), and オルガナイザー (oruganaizā, organizer) are all listed as borrowed from English in sources I have to hand. For that matter, the Daijisen entry here at Kotobank and my dead-tree Shogakukan and Shinmeikai all have entries for ボールド (bōrudo) glossed as board, as a shortening from blackboard. There are definitely trends in how borrowed terms are rendered in Japanese, but I don't think there are many cut-and-dried, no-exception rules. :)
Re: shortening, the final elements often get truncated from terms that are used in compounds. The compound ボール (がみ) (bōrugami, pasteboard, non-corrugated cardboard) could be one such source, or ボール (ばこ) (bōrubako, carton, non-corrugated cardboard box), or  (だん)ボール (danbōru, corrugated cardboard). ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 01:37, 15 December 2016 (UTC)


English Sanskrit is apparently descended from Sanskrit saṃskṛtá, but the english spelling and pronunciation seem more similar to Hindi sanskŕt. If the English was borrowed from the Sanskrit, it would be something like *Samskrita. Additionally borrowing from Hindi seems far more plausible given the conditions of 18th c. India. Does anybody have any early English usage of 'Sanskrit' to prove/disprove this? —This unsigned comment was added by Hazarasp (talkcontribs) at 07:27, 5 November 2016 (UTC).

Given that Hindi (or any other possible source language) itself got it from Sanskrit, our etymology is certainly correct, even if it leaves out a step or two in between. If it said "borrowed" instead of "derived", you might have had more of a point. Chuck Entz (talk) 08:37, 5 November 2016 (UTC)
It's from a particular dialectal form of Sanskrit, if it is Sanskrit at all. Different dialects have different outcomes for syllabic r, and "ri" is just the outcome of one particular variety. —CodeCat 14:39, 5 November 2016 (UTC)
http://www.etymonline.com says it's from संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam, put together, well-formed, perfected), the neuter of संस्कृत (saṃskṛta), from सम् (sam, together) + कृत (kṛta, made, done), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷer-. —Stephen (Talk) 14:51, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
According to my Hindi dictionary (McGregor 1992), the modern Hindi form is also संस्कृत. From my researches, it appears that the word was first adopted into English in many spelling and only settled down to Sanscrit/Sanskrit is the late 18thC. I'm not sure what the Bengali form is, but it might be worth checking out.- Sonofcawdrey (talk) 05:15, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Okay, Bengali is সংস্কৃত্ - so same same. I suppose the form Sanskrit is a simplified spelling that would result in an Anglicised pronunciation that most closely approximated saṃskṛt(a), with msk > nsk, and > ri. So, if I am right, not a borrowing from an Indian language.-Sonofcawdrey (talk) 05:29, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
Historical syllabic "r" pronounced as "ri" occurs in modern Indic languages (see also rishi etc.), and was not introduced during the borrowing-into-English stage... AnonMoos (talk) 00:10, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
Yup. Like with Latin in Europe, every Indian language has its own tradition of pronouncing Sanskrit. This should be accounted for. The model was probably the Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) pronunciation pattern, but it could also conceivably have been the Bengali one, from the historical-geographical context. But shouldn't it have turned out as Sonskrit then?
Anyway, the with underdot, before a fricative, is not a bilabial nasal stop, but symbolises an original nasalisation. Since Hindi/Urdu, like Bengali, also has phonemic and phonetic nasalisation, this is conceivably the local Sanskrit pronunciation of the word too. The transcription sanskŕt is weird; what standard does it correspond to and what does it mean put in terms of IPA? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:49, 5 December 2016 (UTC)


I added an etymology for Sigma, can anyone double-check it? I transferred it from Wikipedia (it's cited though). Sorry for the bother, I haven't been too confident in my competence in etymology and discrimination of sources since that habeo/give incident some time ago. Hillcrest98 (talk) 01:00, 7 November 2016 (UTC)

It sounds plausible, aside from the vowel length difference. The *g of the root *sig- would regularly change to ζ (z) through palatalization triggered by the (pre-Proto-Greek) present suffix *-yō, but would naturally appear as γ (g) before the suffix -μα (-ma). Regarding vowel length, σίζω (sízō) has short (i), while σῖγμα (sîgma) has long (ī), which might suggest they are different roots; but I think the vowel length of σῖγμα (sîgma) is uncertain, since it seems to also be written as σίγμα (sígma) (here the circumflex indicates a long vowel and the acute a short one, since the α in the last syllable is short), so perhaps there is actually no conflict. — Eru·tuon 21:16, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
In regards to vowel length, apparently δεῖγμα (deîgma) has a circumflexed vowel while παράδειγμα (parádeigma) has a non-circumflexed one. Most likely to do with the acute accent in the latter being somewhere else, though. Anti-Gamz Dust (There's Hillcrest!) 01:16, 9 November 2016 (UTC)


Supposedly from typ(ographical error) +‎ -o. Is this not creative overcomplication? Why is it not simply from typo(graphical error)? Mihia (talk) 01:31, 8 November 2016 (UTC)

That's what I'd think as well. —CodeCat 01:32, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
That's the way it was until June of this year when User:Sonofcawdrey added the suffix while splitting the entry into two etymologies. I think some people feel that an etymology isn't complete until it uses all the templates available, whether they're applicable or not. In this case, the word seems to be derived from typography, which was was borrowed from French with the -o already in it. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:48, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
Definitely. --WikiTiki89 13:01, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
I wouldn't say definitely not using the -o suffix myself. Obviously my idea is that the -o suffix is part of the word (that the two "o"s overlap), otherwise I wouldn't have bothered changing it. But, that's just my point of view on it, and I see that someone has changed it already, so c'est la vie, I will bow to conformity. But, I don't think it is derived from typography, since the two etymons (typographical error, and typographer) predate the slangy shortening in English. - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 20:56, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
"I think some people feel that an etymology isn't complete until it uses all the templates available" ... I hardly think this was my motivation, just saying. - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 20:57, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
"-o suffix is part of the word", maybe that can be used as a synchronic surface derivation, but not a more diachronic one the rest of us prefer. Anti-Gamz Dust (There's Hillcrest!) 01:34, 9 November 2016 (UTC)
Wasn't the suffix abstracted from typo in the first place? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:58, 5 December 2016 (UTC)
In "thinko" and a few other parallel terms, yes. In general Australian slang usage, no. AnonMoos (talk) 16:55, 16 December 2016 (UTC)
I'm aware that there is a homonymous suffix as in weirdo (which does not derive from Australian slang, AFAICT), but obviously I wasn't talking about that one. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:59, 11 January 2017 (UTC)

yan tan tethera[edit]

All of the sheep-counting terms (see w:Yan tan tethera) at Wiktionary that I've looked at so far give their etymology as "From Celtic numerals". While this is true of the system(s) as a whole, there's obviously more to it than that when examining individual terms.

To start with, tan is obviously Germanic, not Celtic. Then there's the very strong tendency to rhyme odd and even, except for multiples of 5: yan, the most common form for 1, is a normal Northern reflex of Old English ān, and the terms for 3, such as tan rhyme with it. The terms for 4 are obviously from something related to Welsh pedwar, with some labial as the first consonant, some dental/alveolar consonant as the second, and r as the last. The terms for 3 seem to be what you get when you take the first consonant of a Celtic word for three and make it rhyme with the term for 4. 5 is obviously Brythonic in most variations, as are 10 and 15.

When we get to 6-9, it's hard to say where they come from: the initial consonants are all over the map, and a lot of the 6-7 pairs rhyme with the 3-4 pairs. The first syllables of the rhymes for the 8-9 pairs often do seem to come from a Brythonic reflex of 9, though.

But enough of my quasi-educated guesses: what does it say in the literature? One would think that this remarkable survival of Brythonic vocabulary in Modern English would have generated some discussion. More to the point, how can we improve the etymology sections of these terms? Chuck Entz (talk) 04:40, 11 November 2016 (UTC)

What has always seemed strange to me is the absence of these words in EDD. I agree with you that the current etyms of the form "From Celtic numerals" are not much chop. I guess a start to improving them would be adding in cognates from the various modern languages, whether Celtic or Gmc. - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 07:31, 16 November 2016 (UTC)
I also wonder if all meet CFI. - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 07:31, 16 November 2016 (UTC)


Hans Wehr 4th ed., page 1094; entry (موه) ماه Alexander Militarev, A complete etymology-based hundred wordlist of Semitic updated: Items 75-100, in the Journal of Language Relationhip[s]; entry 94 water, especially the Afro-Asiatic meaning of sap, liquid substance

religion convergence?[edit]

Have you ever heard that

< GRC annointed χριστός
< GRC smear χρίω + -τος
< *gʰrēy- (rub) (wich also gives χρῶμα > chromo-)
< *gʰer- (glow, shine) (which also gives gray/grey, ES-PT-GL-FR gris IT grigio)

is cognate to

< *kr̥snós (black) (which also gives Reconstruction:Proto-Slavic/čьrnъ & LIT kirsnas)? (ref. 46:16)

Is that even possible? Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 03:21, 12 November 2016 (UTC)

Nope! —JohnC5 04:15, 12 November 2016 (UTC)
This comparison is very old and seems to go back to Volney, a French scholar of the 18th century, compare w:Christ myth theory#Dupuis and Volney. This evidently completely accidental similarity must have been noticed as soon as Europeans travelled to India and became familiar with Hindu religion. (Theoretically, it could even have been noticed by travellers as early as Late Antiquity.) --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:48, 5 December 2016 (UTC)


The etymology is very strange here. Obviously the term didn't come into Irish via Proto-Bantu. @Angr, Embryomystic Can you improve it? —CodeCat 20:49, 13 November 2016 (UTC)

I'm not sure what's so strange, except that I omitted intermediate steps. Obviously it's an English loanword, which I've now noted. embryomystic (talk) 20:58, 13 November 2016 (UTC)


Any references for the claimed Irish origin? DTLHS (talk) 21:24, 13 November 2016 (UTC)

Very possibly the Irish term, if it exists, is modelled on the English. The English term dates from the 17th century, and exists in the 16th century in the form cockaloodletoo. The Irish origin seems very dubious to me. - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 07:46, 16 November 2016 (UTC)

English Noun "tot"[edit]

I believe that the English noun "tot" is derived from modern English "toddler", another name for infants, which sounds like "tottler" in some dialects.

Yes, very possibly. I've added an etymology to the entry. Leasnam (talk) 18:09, 14 November 2016 (UTC)


Maybe somebody can help me, the wiktionary codes are overwhelming me. I stumbled on the traditional bonfire-etymology as "bone-fire". As an historian and folklorist, I suspect this is to be a blatant folk-etymology. This was already seen by A. Smyth Palmer, Folk-Etymology. A Dictionary, London 1882, 35-36. The late 15th-century Latin glosse, introducing the term bone-fire seems to be part of the problem, as early-modern folklorists were eager to find a connection between bonfires and supposedly heathen pyres. Nevertheless, Liberman in his popular Word Origins kept to the old idea. And indeed, there might be some proof for burning bones. Cf. Jacqueline Dillion, Thomas Hardy: Folklore and Resistance, 2016, 123.

Palmer had an interesting proposal, referring to Danish bavn "a beacon", Welsh bán "high, lofty", hence ban-faggl "bonfire". As far as I know, however, modern Danish bavn is derived from more distant Danish forms bákn, báken, and Proto-Germanic *baukną, though the customs are identical.

A. Gailey and G.B. Adams, 'The Bonfire in North Irish Tradition', in: Folklore 88 (1977), nr.1, pp. 3-38, 27, 35 (with an Appendix: European Words for “bonfire”) - the most recent publication on the topic - also expressed their doubts. They tried to derive the first component bon from English bane (woe), boon (request for fuel).

Personally, I find the second part of Palmers suggestion more promising. As the Welsh ban-faggl seems to contain the same root as English bon-fire, there might be another solution: Proto-Celtic *bānos (white), which is also present in Welsh banffagl (bonfire), equivalent to bân (white) + ffagl (flame, torch, fire-brand, blaze). In both cases, the word bonfire might have been influenced by English balefire (bonfire, pyre), Old English bælfyr (balefire, funeral or sacrificial fire), equivalent to bæl (pyre, bonfire) + fyr (fire) and deriving from an older Proto-Germanic *bēlą (sorry to be messing around with the wiktionary format and the etymological codes). As I see it, both forms might come from closely related roots "white, shining", which may also be the case with the Scandinavian and Frisian beacon-words.

Moreover, it would explain the distant connection with the theonym Beltane, from *bʰel- (shining, white), usually associated with the origins of the custom of burning bonfires. See: Ronald Hutton, The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain, Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 218–225, who stresses that bonfires are one of the few customs harking back into the Early Middle Ages. Finally, I am also inclined to see a some connection with the theonym Balder, whose is in recent literature referred to as a 'God of Light' and whose traditional etymology from bald has also been revised recently.

Anyhow, I find it difficult to present the already available alternatives in the format required. And would be pleased, if somebody would help to expand the hypothesis further.Otto S. Knottnerus (talk) 19:53, 14 November 2016 (UTC)

Hi @Otto S. Knottnerus:, welcome to Wiktionary. The scholarship you are bringing to this question is much appreciated.
It is an intriguing suggestion, because although the OED has half a dozen quotes (including Christopher Marlowe) connecting bonfires to contemporary bone-fires, from 14c to 18c, it offers no genuinely mediaeval attestation for the word (nothing prior to 1488/1475). Other examples suggest cases where it is used as a pre-Reformation and Reformation translation of Latin rogus (pyre, stake) or Italian rogo (pyre, stake), suggesting a variety of early modern Christian connotations. There are too many literal usages, in both England and Scotland, with locally-appropriate spellings for bone (as pointed out in the OED etymology), to argue for a true folk etymology, I believe. But since there is apparently no evidence this word existed in Middle English, if you draw the line early enough, it seems plausible bone-fire could be a late mediaeval compound which became conflated with and superceded balefire/bælfyr. Here are the entries and citations in the University of Michigan Middle English Dictionary: balefire and bonfire.
Looking at the quotations, I see evidence against conflation: for example, fire is almost always genitive in the bale- examples, whereas bone is sometimes genitive in the bon- examples (as it is in ignis ossium), and fire is always nominative. But, as there are examples involving heretics for both words (the bon- examples are Modern English and hence in the OED, not here), I think there is some evidence for bonfire supplanting balefire, although in English, the metonyn `at the stake' supplanted both.
I do agree with you that the second part of Palmer's proposal makes the most sense, at least per your summary. I have not seen any of the papers or books which you cite. On the basis of your description, I find it hard to be excited about the Gailey/Adams proposal, although you do not present their argument. If Hutton can trace the custom to the early middle ages, can he also trace the word farther than in the MED or OED? Finally, while I am intrigued by the possibility of influence from a Celtic-origin word with similar sound, I lack expertise to evaluate this claim.
In terms of etymology style, I normally try to put any justification beyond phonology for published (or credible) speculation in footnotes dangling from perhaps-qualified phrases-- but I also don't do much with English entries, and others write in other ways. I am sure you will be able to include this information in the shorter style of etymologies here. I'm impressed with how quickly you've become adept at the slightly Byzantine etymology templates. Isomorphyc (talk) 16:05, 15 November 2016 (UTC)


And a second posting on a related topic.

As a rule, the name of the flower daisy is thought to have been derived from angs. dæges-ēage, which has lead folklorists to many wild ideas, including an association with the Mai-festivities of Beltane. As I did some work on the theonym Balder, in Anglo-Saxon sources also Bældæg, I stumbled on the Scandinavian name balderbrå "Balders brow" for several species of Tripleurospermum. The form baldeyebrow was also known in British dialects.

As the names of plants were often confused and exchanged, the hypothesis came up that we might consider an extant form *bældæg-es-ēage for "daisy". Who can comment on this? Otto S. Knottnerus (talk) 20:18, 14 November 2016 (UTC)

Not sure I can help much other than to say that Occam's razor might favour the usual etymology - since (a) the OE form is attested (as opposed to *bældæg-es-ēage), and (b) the flower has a large yellow circle similar to the sun, which could be metaphorically called the day's eye (while there seems to be no good reason the flower should be called Balder's eye ... at least as far as I know). - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 07:37, 16 November 2016 (UTC)


Did this come from a verb? And which one since there's no verb "torsar"? DTLHS (talk) 23:48, 14 November 2016 (UTC)


Said to come from up + shot, referring to the last shot in a match of archery. Or alternatively from Hebrew or Judeo-Aramaic פשט(p’shat, simple explanation).

Is the Hebrew origin really plausible? It seems a bit fanciful to me. Mihia (talk) 03:36, 17 November 2016 (UTC)

No, it's not plausible. I'm removing it. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 06:27, 17 November 2016 (UTC)


In view of týr, is the reconstruction *Tīwaz as a specific theonym rather than (still) a generic term for a deity sensible? It is usually suggested, after all, that *Tīwaz was the original supreme god in earlier times, and pressed into service as the god of war only later. Presumably, the continuation of *dyḗws (not attested in any form in Germanic, apparently, but lost without trace, unless Tuisto is derived from it, but that's only possible if it is distorted by folk-etymology from something like *Tjusta- or *Tjuska-) was replaced by that of the generic *deywós at some point because the inflection of the original name of the supreme god had become too irregular. Wikipedia suggests, unfortunately without source, that the rise of Odin and Thor over Tyr happened only in the Migration Period, and if that's true, it's quite conceivable that the renaming of Tyr only happened after the split-up of Germanic, but while he was still the supreme god, so that "the god" was simply the byname that resembled his proper name (etymologically "sky") most, and in that case the primary meaning of the word in Proto-Germanic was still the generic one which is still preserved in North Germanic, but not elsewhere. But even if that's wrong and the primary name of the god in Proto-Germanic was already *Tīwaz, it's awkward at best to treat the generic meaning of *tīwaz as secondary (in fact, as if it was a secondary development that happened only in North Germanic) when it must evidently be older. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 00:51, 18 November 2016 (UTC)

I think you might be slightly misunderstanding the meaning of "supreme god" in such contexts. In many mythologies, the theoretical supreme god is actually a rather shadowy and remote figure. He may have created the world and/or be at the beginning of genealogies, but there's often not a whole lot more to say about him, and he doesn't meaningfully intervene in the day-to-day concerns of humans. AnonMoos (talk) 01:04, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
@AnonMoos: I'm using the term in the exact same sense as listed in supreme god, namely, King of the Gods. Zeus is the prototypical example of a "king of the gods"-type supreme god, and he clearly does not fit your description. So I'm sorry to say I fail to see the point of your comment, as it does not substantially address anything I've said. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:35, 11 January 2017 (UTC)
The possibility should be kept in mind that there might not have been a clearly-delineated "king of the gods" in certain phases of Indo-European society and/or along the path towards Germanic. In many mythologies, the nominal supreme god is more like Greek Ouranos than Zeus... AnonMoos (talk) 17:30, 13 January 2017 (UTC)
Maybe, but I still fail to see the relevance of this niggle to anything I've said. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:52, 15 January 2017 (UTC)


Absolutely not borrowed directly from Ἀθῆναι (Athênai). More likely got here from some Romance language. Anti-Gamz Dust (There's Hillcrest!) 15:22, 18 November 2016 (UTC)

I don't know why you think that. It probably came via Latin, but that's just because nearly all such words did. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:56, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
I was complaining of the wording, that's all. The ultimate etymology has always been correct. Anti-Gamz Dust (There's Hillcrest!) 16:58, 24 November 2016 (UTC)

pēnsō and descendants[edit]

Does anyone know more about the descendants with medial -ns-? The etymologies say they're Latin borrowings, but they're present in minority languages that I wouldn't expect to see Latin book words in (Istriot pansà, for example, which also shows the same e > a as pascà < *piscāre), and I am suspicious of the idea that a Latinism could displace a basic verb (whatever it is) so thoroughly in so many different languages. KarikaSlayer (talk) 03:53, 19 November 2016 (UTC)

Must be a Latin borrowing into Proto-Romance. :p Crom daba (talk) 18:10, 19 November 2016 (UTC)
Considering that pensum does not show any doublets with nasal (apart from the patently late reborrowing pensum and the semi-learned pienso), later reborrowing (maybe in the context of Ecclesiastic Latin, and in some cases secondarily adapted – the phenomenon of borrowings artifically made to look older than they really are does exist; Ante Aikio has written about such borrowings in Saami) is the only reasonable explanation. Note, moreover, that the Latinism continues to exist side by side with the expected forms without nasal. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 00:24, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

blood is thicker than water[edit]

It's often asserted (as of late) in popular media that this derives from a supposed the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb, which seems to have been first mentioned (it's practically never used) by a certain Richard Pustelniak in 1994. That's much later than simply blood is thicker than water that has many uses from the nineteenth century even on Google Books. To my knowledge no linguist has published anything supporting the longer version as the proverb's origin. Should we add a warning that the now current etymology is dubious? Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 15:17, 21 November 2016 (UTC)

It really doesn't seem worth the clutter. Chuck Entz (talk) 13:59, 14 December 2016 (UTC)

Mongolian самбар (sambar, board)[edit]

@Wyang @Rajasekhar1961

Sükhbaatar connects this with Sanskrit "sambhara", supposedly the same source as Tibetan ས་འབྲིས (sa 'bris) (I generated the Tibetan text from the given transliteration, no idea if it's correct).

I'm guessing that he meant Sanskrit संभारः (saṃbhāraḥ) since it seems to have a great range of meaning: "-1 Bringing together, collecting -2 Preparation, provisions, necessaries, requisites, apparatus, things requisite for any act -3 An ingredient, a constituent part. -4 Multitude, heap, quantity, assemblage; as in शस्त्रास्त्रसंभार. -5 Fulness. -6 Wealth, affluence. -7 Maintenance, support. -8 High degree, excess of."

Is there a sense of saṃbhāraḥ not listed among these that would be closer to the Mongolian word? भार्मन् (bhārman, a board for bearing or holding, a table) seems relevant because it is presumably from the same root and is much closer semantically.

Crom daba (talk) 01:50, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

This theory seems to have been first put forward by Ligeti Lajos in Mongolos jövevényszavaink kérdése [The problem of our loanwords of Mongolian type] (1935), and was subsequently mentioned in A. Róna-Tas' Some Notes on the Terminology of Mongolian Writing (1965) and Tóth Erzsébet's thesis Mongol-tibeti nyelvi kölcsönhatások (2008). While the Sanskrit comparandum seems fairly plausible phonologically, the Tibetan one appears less reliable.
I couldn't find the word ས་འབྲིས (sa 'bris) in dictionaries or online. The closest was ས་བྲིས (sa bris), found only on a few book names, which was referring to a style of Tibetan writing or calligraphy in Golog (northeastern Tibet), and the related technology of blotting paper production (Chinese: 洒智 sǎzhì). I initially thought the sa bris in book names was a misspelling of sa 'bris, but it seems sa bris is the usual spelling, as seen here - མགོ་ལོག་སྡེར་ནང་ས་བྲིས (mgo log sder nang sa bris, Sa-bris calligraphy from the Denang Monastery in Golog). A variety of equipment are used in sa-bris, including brush, ink, paper, ink stone, writing board, etc.; sa-bris was described as the Tibetan equivalent of the Four Treasures of the Study in East Asian calligraphy, and was recognised as a natural intangible cultural heritage in 2008. With regard to the etymology of sa-bris, several websites (such as this) remarked that this style of calligraphy was invented in the 18th century by the monk Sa-an Tenzin (洒安旦增), hence the name sa-bris (བྲིས bris = to write). It seems Tibetan sa bris and Mongolian sambar are etymologically unrelated, unless sa bris is a dialectal corruption of Sanskrit sambhara, contaminated by bris (“to write”).
The Tibetan sa bris and Mongolian sambar are said to be equivalents in the Pentaglot Dictionary (A. Róna-Tas citing the 1957 printed version), and since sa bris represents a style of writing which requires an assortment of equipment, the same may be said of sambar as well. The various descendant forms of saṁbhārá can be found here, but its basic meaning is “bringing together”, so this may be the origin of the name. Wyang (talk) 04:30, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
That's great, thanks for digging all of that up! I'll link this discussion from the entry's talk page for posterity. Crom daba (talk) 05:23, 22 November 2016 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology. ばかFumikotalk 10:01, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

Anything specific that needs to be verified? The element yếm in yếm khí, yếm thế, yếm nhân obviously derives from Sino-Vietnamese. Wyang (talk) 10:14, 22 November 2016 (UTC)


This Swahili word is from Arabic مَسْجِد(masjid), and clearly derives from the older stratum of borrowings. One odd thing is that I would expect a j rather than a k — does this come from a specific Arabic dialect? —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:58, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

The word mosque itself has a k too, so maybe there's clues in that direction. —CodeCat 21:08, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
Standard Arabic j comes from earlier g, and it still is /ɡ/ in some dialects like Egyptian. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:33, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
I thought about Egyptian Arabic, but it just doesn't make sense. Most of the Arabic loans in Swahili are reputedly from Omani Arabic, but I don't know where to look for resources on how this word is pronounced in Oman. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 22:05, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
This discussion may be relevant. --Vahag (talk) 08:30, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for the link. Swahili poses an especially frustrating part of this because although the word could potentially have come via Persian traders, that seems rather unlikely (Arabic loans swamp out Persian ones by far in Swahili, and after all this is a word relating to Islam). I wonder if there are any further resources to resolve it. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:31, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
Could this be a time depth matter? Omani Arabic doesn't have g in this word anymore now, but what about when the word might have been borrowed? The g could have been much more widespread at the time, and thus made its way into Swahili before the change to j took place. —CodeCat 21:11, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, I've been wondering that too. According to w:Classical Arabic#Phonology, the pronunciation in Classical Arabic may have been [ɡʲ].
It's still a mystery to me where Spanish mezquita (first attested c. 1100, before all other Romance counterparts) comes from. Phonologically it does make sense that it was borrowed from Middle Armenian or perhaps Byzantine Greek, as Pfeifer suggests, but historically and geographically that's quite unexpected. Why would a word so intimately related to Islam at the time not simply be borrowed from Arabic (most likely the local Andalusian dialect)? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 09:21, 25 November 2016 (UTC)
@Metaknowledge, CodeCat In fact, according to w:Arabic phonology#Consonants and w:Yemeni Arabic, the conservative pronunciations [ɟ], [ɡʲ] and [ɡ] do occur in parts of Yemen and Oman. It makes complete sense to me that the "hard gīm" used to be more widespread in the region. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 09:57, 25 November 2016 (UTC)
Yes, these pronunciations (including [ʝ] I think) are still heard today in the Arabian peninsula. And since [g] or [ɟ] is also the original pronunciation, I don't see any problem concerning Swahili (and not that much of a problem concerning Spanish even). Kolmiel (talk) 11:35, 25 November 2016 (UTC)
I still wonder why we don't get *msigiti, but I suppose you can explain that away just by the fact that it's an older loan, before speakers got used to Arabic sounds. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 18:52, 25 November 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps g didn't exist in Swahili at the time? —CodeCat 22:06, 25 November 2016 (UTC)
Swahili g is the implosive /ɠ/, not the (ex)plosive /g/. --Tropylium (talk) 23:58, 26 November 2016 (UTC)


Can anyone help me with the umlaut here? How did the forms with O's get there? Regular umlaut rule? Anti-Gamz Dust (There's Hillcrest!) 03:46, 24 November 2016 (UTC)

/ur, ir/ > /or, er/ is an unconditional rule in several Germanic languages. /u/ > /o/ is an unconditional rule in (North-?)Western Dutch, which is the basis for modern Dutch orthography. Korn [kʰũːɘ̃n] (talk) 09:08, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
The o in Old English is unexpected; *furduz should have given ×furd. It looks like the Old English comes from a byform *furdaz. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 12:59, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
@Angr Thought the Old English came from an A-form as well, so that an A-umlaut could cause the /o/ to appear. Anti-Gamz Dust (There's Hillcrest!) 13:37, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
In principle it's also conceivable that the A-umlaut could have arisen in the genitive *furdauz. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 10:40, 25 November 2016 (UTC)

Spelling of friend[edit]

The pronunciation comes from freond pretty regularly, but the spelling is bizarre. We list three Middle English variants frende, frend, freond, none of them containing something similar to the <ie> in the modern spelling. However, friend happens to be a plural of OE freond. Does the modern spelling have any connection to that? Anti-Gamz Dust (There's Hillcrest!) 16:47, 24 November 2016 (UTC)

I wonder if perhaps the spelling was influenced by the antonym fiend. Or possibly even by Dutch vriend? Just a thought ... --Florian Blaschke (talk) 10:46, 25 November 2016 (UTC)
Do English spellings have any rationale behind them at all? :) Kolmiel (talk) 11:22, 25 November 2016 (UTC)
I don't understand the dilemma. It doesn't seem unusual at all to me, except maybe the alternative use of ie for ee. The expected outcome of Old English frēond is Middle English freend. ME friend is just a variant spelling. Later the vowel was shortened to something like /frInd/ before settling on /frend/. Chancery simply chose the current spelling from amongst the others. Leasnam (talk) 23:02, 25 November 2016 (UTC)
If you want to see the real range of variation in Middle English, look at the MED entry. The modern spelling is certainly rare, but it's attested. That's not to discount your theory about paradigmatic leveling, but the lack of a Wiktionary Middle English entry for that spelling isn't evidence for it. If anything, it just shows that volunteer editors are going to make entries for what's different and interesting first, especially if the boring spelling wasn't very common. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:15, 26 November 2016 (UTC)
  • I don't understand the dilemma. I'm made to understand that /iə/, spelled ⟨ie⟩, is the regular outcome of ēo in Tyke or Geordie or something, cf. thief, lief. Korn [kʰũːɘ̃n] (talk) 18:02, 27 November 2016 (UTC)
That is correct I think, as ēo is the West Saxon version of what would otherwise be Anglian īo Leasnam (talk) 00:04, 28 November 2016 (UTC)


The etymology at Bengel disagrees with the definition at Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/bangilaz. Which one is it? Korn [kʰũːɘ̃n] (talk) 17:54, 27 November 2016 (UTC)

Is it the definitions at *bangilaz that are the problem ? I know that in the West Germanic languages, they later came to mean "boy", but I doubt seriously that this meaning was already in PGmc Leasnam (talk) 00:02, 28 November 2016 (UTC)
According to Pfeifer, the Middle High German word bengel means "club" only, as do Middle Dutch bengel and Low German Bengel (this one also means "clapper"); the meaning "lout" arose only in the 16th century. So the meaning given for Proto-Germanic at *bangilaz is wrong. I've corrected it. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 01:54, 28 November 2016 (UTC)
Thank you ! Leasnam (talk) 03:40, 28 November 2016 (UTC)

κλῖμαξ and κλίμα[edit]

Why does the first have a long i, and not the second? @JohnC5 —This unsigned comment was added by 2a02:2788:1004:11d6:cc9a:663:ab0:7b5 (talk).

Off the top of my head, it's possible that κλῖμαξ has compensatory lengthening and comes from something like *klismaks. The PIE root is *ḱley-, so ī isn't expected anywhere unless it was actually *ḱleyH-. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 16:21, 30 November 2016 (UTC)