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Old High German[edit]


Compared to Gothic πŒ°πŒΉπ‚πŒΊπŒ°πŒΉπ‚πŒΊπŒ½πƒβ€Ž β€Ž(airkairknsβ€Ž) (glossing Latin ingenuitas, from a supposed πŒ°πŒΉπ‚πŒΊπŒ½πƒ β€Ž(airkns, β€œgenuine, true; holy”) (in πŒΏπŒ½πŒ°πŒΉπ‚πŒΊπŒ½πƒ β€Ž(unairkns, β€œunholy, impure”)), and Old English eorcnanstan β€Ž(β€œprecious stone, gem”) (see eorcnan, erce). An archaic Germanic word from the sacral sphere. Its original meaning is difficult to reconstruct as it belonged to the pagan religious vocabulary obscured after Christianization.

Pokorny (1959) tentatively groups the word with Proto-Indo-European *hβ‚‚erΗ΅- β€Ž(β€œglittering, white”) (compare Ancient Greek αΌ€ΟΞ³ΟŒΟ‚ β€Ž(argΓ³s), Latin argentum), but Gothic πŒ°π‚πŒΊ- β€Ž(ark-) may also be an early loan of (ἀρχι- β€Ž(arkhi-, β€œarchi-”)), compare Ulfilan πŒ°π‚πŒΊπŒ°πŒ²πŒ²πŒΉπŒ»πŒΏπƒ β€Ž(arkaggilus) for archangelus.



  1. sublime, chief, special, egregious, genuine, true (?)
    • der erchano sangheri (=egregius psaltes, Isaiah 4:2)
    • ercna euua (=certa lege Isaiah 2:1)
    • allero specierum erchenosta (=speciem specialissimam)
    • Also ih tes mennisken boteh einen toten mennisken heizo, nals nicht erchenen mennisken (Notker trans. Boethius 5[1] = Nam uti cadauer hominem mortuum dixeris, simpliciter uero hominem appellare non possis "For though you might call a cadaver 'a dead man', you cannot just simply call it 'a man' [viz. it is not genuinely a man].")

Derived terms[edit]


  • German: Erchtag β€Ž(β€œTuesday”) (archaic, Bavarian)


  • Eberhard Gottlieb Graff, Hans Ferdinand Massmann, Althochdeutscher Sprachschatz, oder, WΓΆrterbuch der althochdeutschen Sprache, 1834, p. 468.
  • Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie (1835, trans. Stallybrass 1888), 113; 182β€”185.
  • Bopp, Comparative Grammar (1815, trans. Eastwick 1862), p. 1285.
  • Hjalmar Falk, Alf Torp, Wortschatz der germanischen Spracheinheit, part 3, 5th ed., Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979, ISBN 9783525264058, p. 26.
  • Lorenz Diefenbach, Vergleichendes WΓΆrterbuch der gotischen Sprache, J. Baer, 1851 p. 23.