Wiktionary:Etymology scriptorium/2018/December

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Is this a calque from Chinese? DTLHS (talk) 20:16, 30 November 2018 (UTC)

Since energy transferability is completely different in Chinese, this blend is certainly not a calque. The combination energy transfer is pretty common and found already in 19th-century texts. Likewise for transferability of energy. For energy transferability we have to wait till the 20th century, still preceding the research reported on by Professor Guo and his group by a long time.  --Lambiam 19:22, 1 December 2018 (UTC)

grogram and grosgrain[edit]

Are these just doublets borrowed at different times? Some dicts suggest grogram came from gros-grain. Ultimateria (talk) 03:53, 5 December 2018 (UTC)

The dictionaries suggesting this include Wiktionary. For grogram the Online Etymology Dictionaty dates its use from the 1560s. I have no data on the appearance of the form grosgrain in English. Interestingly, French borrowed grogram (or grogran) back as gourgouran.  --Lambiam 05:32, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
Le Trésor gives more specifically “since 1562” for grogram; Oxford Dictionaries gives “mid 19th century” for grosgrain.  --Lambiam 05:45, 5 December 2018 (UTC)

RFV: Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/wandijaną#Etymology[edit]

Is it correct mentioning Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/windaną insinuating it is the origin before the ultimate etym? Or their relationship is simply as cognates? Should we change the tree of *wendʰ- (to turn, wind, braid)? Sobreira ►〓 (parlez) 08:14, 5 December 2018 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology (from Mainland Chinese). — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 23:48, 5 December 2018 (UTC)


The etymology section strikes me as a bit lurid. As far as I can tell most sources state that the cakewalk dance was a post-Civil War dance that was popular after the Reconstruction, though one or two texts confusingly date it to the pre-Civil War slave plantations. There does seem to be consensus that it derived from a plantation dance; some sources state this dance was primarily a way to mock slaveowners, [1] another one that it was imposed by slaveowners but subverted by slaves. [2] ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 09:15, 6 December 2018 (UTC)

Obviously, the etymology section is not intended for a capsule encyclopedic article and should not be used for that. Something like “cake +‎ walk” should suffice. Points of view on who designed or organized cakewalks and who made a mockery of whom are best left to the article on Wikipedia. As to the various senses and their definitions, Collins has a countable sense of “a piece of music” for the musical sense, not the current uncountable “style of music”. I’m only familiar with Golliwogg’s Cakewalk, which is a specific piece of music.  --Lambiam 16:20, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
I utterly disagree. Etymologies absolutely can provide historical details. DTLHS (talk) 16:25, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
I'm with DTLHS on this one. Most people don't care about the actual lexical, surface etymology. It's the historical circumstance that led to words being used in a certain way that are interesting. And even from a lexicographical point of view, it's not at all clear how the current meaning came from "cake" + "walk", so further explanation is necessary. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 16:43, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
There is a difference (or, at least, that is what I think) between providing historical details and including an encyclopedic article, although in abridged form. The current elaborate section fails to shed any light on the sense development from a dance requiring skill and often the subject of a contest – and so presenting a challenge – to something supposedly not presenting a challenge.  --Lambiam 21:59, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
@Lambiam Just edited the etymology. How do you feel about the current text and length? ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 09:48, 7 December 2018 (UTC)
It is much improved. I have done some further copy editing, such as replacing the ambiguous term amusing by entertaining, and added some sentences on the sense development.  --Lambiam 11:02, 7 December 2018 (UTC)


  • Old English sēman (“to reconcile, bring an agreement”), Old English sōm (“agreement”).

Souldn't the relation between OE sēman and sōm be specified in the etymology of seem? As it is currently, related by a comma, one cannot infer what their relation is at all (By the way, I'm afraid this is a fault in the general writing style of this section in entries) --Backinstadiums (talk) 11:40, 6 December 2018 (UTC)

The relationship is that they have a common ancestor. It is probably better to write “cognate with” than “akin to”. Most of the etymology info in general is pilfered from various sources that are not always crystal clear about the relation between various forms. Since (unlike Wikipedia) we mostly do not cite our sources when it comes to etymology, it is not easy to check if perhaps the sources were clearer than what ended up here.  --Lambiam 16:32, 6 December 2018 (UTC)


Is the given etymology right/sourceable? Alexander Beider's Origins of Yiddish Dialects notes that Western Yiddish knoblikh (Birnbaum has the same word, written knoblix) and dialectal knoploch are "well correlated with various German dialectal phonetic forms related to NHG Knoblauch", and suggests that the form knobl used in Eastern Yiddish and some other dialects "may be due to hypercorrection: this ending was falsely interpreted as the diminutive plural suffix giving rise to a 'singular' knobl. It is unclear whether this change was internal to Jews, or influence by a similar phenomenon that took place in German dialects of Moravia, Austria and Swabia." (E.g. Swabian has a corresponding form Knobl.)
(Presenting a third possibility, Paul Wexler's Two-tiered Relexification in Yiddish stars *knobloch as nonexistent and gives Knobel and Knöbel and "Austrian G knofe 'garlic'" as the Yiddish word's German cognates, but he seems to be mistaken; the Duden relates Knobel to Knöchel, and Knofi is only a diminutive which, like Knof(e)l, ultimately derives from the same source as Knoblauch.)
- -sche (discuss) 21:57, 7 December 2018 (UTC)

To make this even stranger, the entry on German Knoblauch states that the initial kn- arose by dissimilation from kl-, and that the Knob component is cognate with English clove. Knoblauch would then originally literally have meant something like “cloven onion”. Moreover, the same kl-kn- switch is said to have applied to German Knopf. That is incompatible with having Proto-Germanic *knuppô as ancestor, something stated both at קנאָבל(knobl) and Knopf. I find back-formation from (a variant of) Knoblauch more plausible than the presently given etymology.  --Lambiam 00:55, 8 December 2018 (UTC)
Looks like I added this one, but I don't know what my source was, so I'd go with Beider; he's not always right, but he's careful, whereas Wexler is insane. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 02:27, 8 December 2018 (UTC)

aju/eju/ejò/àju (mother)[edit]

Italian Walser terms meaning "mother" (not "mom"). Can't find any cognates. Is this just recently-developed nursery language? Or does it descend from some earlier root? Note that möter, muater, and mamma are also attested in these dialects, i.e. aju/eju/ejò/àju aren't the sole terms for "mother". — Julia 02:12, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

Many, many languages around the world have a word like /aja/ for maternal figures, either as an ordinary noun (like “mother”, “grandmother”) or as an endearing term (like “nana”), so yes, it can be considered a lallwort. There appears not to be any Indo-European etymology. The closest I can find is Proto-Germanic *aiþī(n)- ~ *aiþōn- (mother) (cf. Lubotsky 2013), which I don't think is a plausible ancestor for your words, related or not. I would leave their etymologies blank for now; otherwise just call them nursery language / lallworts or say “Unknown.”.  — J​as​p​e​t 01:28, 14 December 2018 (UTC)


Currently swap is divided into Etymology 1 (inherited from Middle English) for the verb, and a request for a separate Etymology 2 for the noun. But according to the OED, both the noun and the verb (as well as a dialectal adverb) come from the same source, Middle English swappe, swappen, with earlier origins "probably echoic" (of striking a blow). Etymonline says the noun came from the verb c. 1620, but OED has citations for the noun in Middle English a. 1400. Are there other sources that suggest separate etymologies? @Rua, DCDuring. Cnilep (talk) 02:47, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

I have nothing to add, except to observe that it is not unusual to have two etymologies for homonym noun-verb pair with ME derivation, because ME or OE may also have had cognate noun-verb pairs. But apparently there is no evidence of such a pair in this case. DCDuring (talk) 04:23, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
I've moved all the Noun senses derived from the verb to Etymology 1, leaving only the obsolete noun sense inherited from Middle English in Etymology 2. Leasnam (talk) 06:08, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Given what Cnilep found, it's not appropriate to have the same etymology for both. I've unmerged them. —Rua (mew) 11:57, 10 December 2018 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology. A Manual for Parthian (Arsacid Pahlavi) [in Persian ], Hassan Rezai Baghbidi, PhD. Qoqnus pub. P:199 [pwsg /pusag~pūsag/ : Flowered crown , diadem ] —This unsigned comment was added by Ariamihr (talkcontribs) at 17:05, 10 December 2018 (UTC).

This is probably in response to my rfv-etymology at Persian بساک(basâk). Can Middle Iranian *pusak give Persian بساک(basâk)? @Calak, Victar, ZxxZxxZ. --Vahag (talk) 17:56, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
@Vahagn Petrosyan:, I don't know much about b/p variation in modern Persian, but the etymology, which I cleaned up, is pretty solid. @Ariamihr, please don't reconstruct generic MIr forms like you did. There is a reason we don't allow for MIr lemmas. --{{victar|talk}} 18:52, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

perish the thought[edit]

Is the etymology correct? Isn't it simply a subjunctive with a postposed subject, as in far be it? @Leasnam, Equinox, DCDuring Per utramque cavernam 20:54, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

I think it is off. “The thought” is the subject, not the object, just like “the king” in “long live the king”. The whole is a wish, not a command (addressed to whom?).  --Lambiam 21:03, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Oxford Dictionaries online lists the phrase as an example of a set phrase that contains a subjunctive. Here is one more example of a set phrase where the subject follows the verb: be that as it may.  --Lambiam 21:15, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Indeed, thank you. I was looking for more examples of that. Per utramque cavernam 21:30, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
"Let not my sins perish your noble youth." - Beaumont and Fletcher. The Maid's Tragedy (c. 1609) is an example of the obsolete transitive perish. See perish in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911. DCDuring (talk) 21:37, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Whether it is an order or a wish is not determined by the grammar, but by the context, certainly now that it is a set phrase. DCDuring (talk) 21:37, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Indeed. But how can we use the fact that we are dealing with a set phrase to determine its intended parsing, as a wish or as a command? Let us examine what books on English idiom have to say.
Now the issue cannot be settled by an appeal to authority, but no source that I have seen even considers the possibility that we are dealing with an order. While not strictly impossible, it seems somewhat implausible. For that to make sense, the person uttering the command has to be addressing themselves, like in a soliloquy.
The first recorded appearance seems to be in the libretto of Handel’s Joshua, Part II, Scene VI. Caleb is speaking to Othniel, a young warrior betrothed to Caleb’s daughter: “Firm to our Faith, it never ſhall be ſaid, That our Allies, in vain implor’d our Aid.” Othniel responds: “Periſh the Thought ! while Honour hath a Name, Iſrael’s, or Gibeon’s Cauſe is ſtill the ſame.” In theory, Othniel could be issuing a command to Caleb, but that does not accord with their relative status. The last recorded use of obsolete transitive perish is from 1619, while Joshua is from 1747. Of course, the phrase may already have been set idiom when it was penned there; there is no reason to think it was coined by Thomas Morell, the librettist. All considered, I have not seen an argument for preferring the parsing of the verb form as a transitive imperative over an intransitive subjunctive.  --Lambiam 09:39, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
I am curious how you determined that the usages you quote were last and first, respectively.
I don't think the two parsings are the only possibilities. It can be either imperative or subjunctive with either a transitive or intransitive verb. The absence of inflection or other marking makes it impossible to determine. Semantically, there is little distinction to be made in the interpretation. The part that I find implausible is the inverted word order required for the intransitive. I don't find any semantic reason to prefer subjunctive over imperative. A synonymous 20th century idiom often in imperative form is "Put that thought right out of your head." DCDuring (talk) 15:40, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
It is generally impossible to ascertain with absolute certainty whether a given instance of recorded use is the first or last; there is always the possibility of a perfect instance hidden in a forgotten file in the Vatican Library, patiently waiting to be discovered. But I imagine that Mrs. Whitney and Smith, had they known of a later instance of use of obsolete transitive perish, would have recorded that instead of, or supplementary to, the one from The Maid’s Tragedy. I have interpreted the statement that this phrase “appeared” in Handel's Joshua as meaning that this was the first known appearance. Perhaps that was not what was meant; since my argument does not rely on this – I wrote that the phrase may already have been set idiom at the time – it is of no consequence to the conclusions.
I don’t quite see how we can have a parsing in which the verb is an imperative for an intransitive sense. What is the grammatical role of the thought in this parsing? It cannot be a subject, since the English imperative only allows an (optional) second-person pronoun as subject. It cannot be an object, since the verb is intransitive. I also have a problem seeing how we can have a subjunctive with a transitive verb. The subject role can only be taken by the thought, as there are no other constituents around. Substituting may destroy for subjunctive transitive perish, we get “May the thought destroy”. That does not feel right.
Above I have given several examples of VS order for the subjunctive. Some more examples: come what may; suffice it to say; so help me God.
Take a passage like this about the hunt for the Higgs boson: “In all cases, agreement would be a confirmation that the Standard Model worked in a new process, and a disagreement would mean either that the Standard Model was wrong or that there was a mistake in the calculation or (perish the thought) in our measurement.” The sense here, and in most cases, appears to be, ”A truly horrible idea!”, with the subtext that one believes it not to be so, but cannot completely rule out the possibility; hence, the aspect of hope. If we try to interpret it as a command, the question is to whom the command is addressed. Who is being ordered to bring the thought to eternal rest? In many cases, as in the Higgs boson example, the context is not a dialogue; there is no you there.  --Lambiam 21:09, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
It can be imperative or subjunctive. To me, the subjunctive seems a better fit ("[Let] perish, the thought" "Let the thought be done away with"). Either way, this construction has led to a lot of re-analysis and it's certainly interpreted now as either subjunctive (rarely by those who know), and imperative, and transitive (see here [3]). How then is the etymology wrong ? It states that it likely began as a subjunctive and morphed into other things Leasnam (talk) 23:59, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
The etymology does not state that it likely began as a subjunctive. It conjectures that the (obsolete) transitive sense of perish arose from an incorrect analysis of its role in set phrases in which the word was the subjunctive of the usual intransitive sense. It also states that the phrase is from the transitive sense – all without evidence. Curiously enough, if the example set phrase of the conjectural misunderstanding is taken as not a mere possibility but as something actually likely, we are presented with the following development:
perish (subjunctive intransitive) the thought (subject) by misunderstanding perish (imperative transitive) the thought (object) modern reanalysis perish (subjunctive intransitive) the thought (subject).
Really?  --Lambiam 08:59, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
No. The imperative is not intermediate (it does not lead to the Transitive). It likely goes as follows: (Subjunctive) to (Transitive and Imperative), with Imperative being the imperative of the Transitive. Leasnam (talk) 04:17, 16 December 2018 (UTC)


I'm wondering if the Hawaiian word hikina is a combination of the verb hiki (to arrive) and the suffix -na. Any thoughts on this? --Lo Ximiendo (talk) 17:04, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

@Lo Ximiendo: Your wondering is correct, from what I've been able to find. :) I've updated the entry. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 19:11, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
@Eirikr Thanks, Eiríkr Útlendi; that wehewehe website looks pretty interesting. --Lo Ximiendo (talk) 02:15, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
@Lo Ximiendo: I've found it quite helpful for exploring Hawaiian terms. I hope you also find it useful.
Incidentally, do you know much about {{haw-IPA}}? I'm curious if it's ever used outside of ===Pronunciation=== sections. If not, may as well include the bullet point in the template's output, no? Much like what {{ja-pron}} already outputs.
Also, do you have any idea why it's outputting [t] as equivalent to /k/? As far as I've studied, that only applies to certain terms in Kaua'i dialect.
Cheers, ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 08:03, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
@Eirikr, Lo Ximiendo: I'm a little concerned about whether {{haw-IPA}} is ready for primetime, to be honest. I think we should avoid using it until someone can do a careful check of its output against a scholarly reference for Hawaiian phonology, and we might be better off not generating a narrow transcription at all, given how fraught it is. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 03:02, 14 December 2018 (UTC)


A user on the talk page quite reasonably asks for evidence that this is Celtic and not just a dialectal variant of mom~mum. - -sche (discuss) 18:13, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

If there is evidence for Proto-Brythonic *mamm, the answer should be affirmative, at least for Welsh, but it would strengthen the case for Irish too. So where did this proclaimed etymology come from? @Anglom?  --Lambiam 19:17, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
Good point: if it's used in places where the local non-English language also uses mam, we could perhaps still say "Possibly reinforced by...", even if it's also possibly just a natural development from baby-talk, as Chuck points out it might be. - -sche (discuss) 06:39, 14 December 2018 (UTC)
I think you're slightly misinterpreting what they said. In a way, words like mama are a sort of onomatopoeia: they represent what babies tend to utter in the earlier stages of their speech development. Although these words can be affected by sound changes over time, they also tend to reemerge in their original form from time to time. See, for instance Proto-Indo-European *ph₂tḗr, which changed to Proto-Germanic *fadēr, and eventually ended up as English father- but now coexists with pa and papa.
If I understand User:Luxipa's argument, the point is that these forms in different dialects are what you get when you filter the sounds produced by the babies through the phonotactics of the dialects. In other words, it's not that the word has undergone historic sound change as the dialects have developed from older stages of the language, it's that the language-independent sounds of baby talk have been repeated by people with different accents. Chuck Entz (talk) 04:51, 14 December 2018 (UTC)
Yes, I think that's what I mean. Babies all around the world seem to say [mä, mäm, mämä]; even though there may be some variation. Now my point is that when you try approach this baby utterance in the three dialects (North America, southern England, northern England), "mom" vs. "mum" vs. "mam" is exactly what you would get. In North America, short "o" is open, unrounded, and even often centralised, whereas short "u" is rather closed. In northern England "o" is rounded and too closed, but short "u" fits well. Southern English also has a rounded "o" while "u" is [ʊ], so they chose "mam". I don't have any further insights into the question, it's just that this pattern doesn't seem arbitrary. Luxipa (talk) 10:24, 14 December 2018 (UTC)

सूनु (Etymology 2)[edit]

The second etymology of Sanskrit सूनु (sūnu) derives it from सूते (√sū, to beget, produce, yield) and lists the definition “one who presses out or extracts the soma-juice”. This √sū is clearly a descendant of PIE *sewH- (to give birth), but I noticed that its descendant meaning of “to extract a juice” in Sanskrit is semantically much closer to *sew- (to pour), which is considered a distinct (though probably related) root from *sewH- mainly because it does not appear to contain a laryngeal. The lengthening in सूनु (sūnú) most likely points to a laryngeal, so it'd be hard to argue a derivation from *sew- rather than *sewH- despite the apparent semantic difference. Luckily, *sewh₂- (to pour out, rain, press out, extract) is mentioned here and covers the meaning of “to squeeze out” far better than what *sewH- is given credit for (namely just “to give birth”), so it appears to be the best candidate for the origin of सूते (√sū), and on the surface it seems identical to the entry listed currently as *sewH-. However, there is still a problem: *sewH- is reconstructed as either *sewh₁- or *sewh₃-, but not *sewh₂-. Therefore, assuming the aforementioned reconstructions are correct, they cannot be merged into one etymology, unless the laryngeals here are two separate extensions (*-h₂ and *-h₃?) of an original *sew-. This is what I now suspect to be the case, albeit hesitantly.

(Probably also related are Sanskrit सुनोति (sunóti, to press out, extract), Proto-Slavic *sunǫti (to thrust, shove) (note the meaning “to pour out” in several descendants), Sanskrit सुवति (suváti, to set in motion, create (etc.)), and PS *sovati (to shove) (related to the aforementioned *sunǫti via Proto-Balto-Slavic *śūˀ- ~ *śauˀ-) — are these from *sew-, *sewH-, or both? If *sewH-, it would appear to support an original meaning of “to eject” as well as “to produce, give birth” for this root.)

Anyway, I apologize for the somewhat protracted post. I'm still not sure what to do about the original subject of my inquiry, the second etymology of सूनु (sūnu). I've checked several etymological dictionaries, none of which list a gloss like “one who extracts soma” for the word (e.g. here and here (p. 1118, top of column 2)). I am exhausted and any input would be appreciated.  — J​as​p​e​t 01:02, 14 December 2018 (UTC)


Quite an interesting character. I wonder how it came to be. Could it possibly be related to ? Johnny Shiz (talk) 00:46, 16 December 2018 (UTC)

They are in the same phonetic series (according to Zhengzhang (2003), Old Chinese Phonology), with and as the other members. If the information given at is correct, this is ultimately based on the phonetic .  --Lambiam 05:16, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
Judging from the ancient glyphs, it appears to be semantic and phonetic . Johnny Shiz (talk) 14:53, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
That is undoubtedly correct, but perhaps some of the characters that came to be used as a phonetic are historically compound themselves with a phonetic of their own – a phonetic of a phonetic, which then contributed indirectly to the phonetic aspect of the second generation of compound characters.  --Lambiam 17:37, 16 December 2018 (UTC)


Apparently, semantic + phonetic ?


Wikipedia says that this landmine is named for the sword claymore. Can someone source it if it's true? Ultimateria (talk) 19:29, 16 December 2018 (UTC)