Karulis, however, considers this to be the primary term and kuce its derivative. From Proto-Indo-European *keu- : *kū̆- (“to swell; to bend (over)”), whence also Latvian kukt (“to hunch one's back”). Development of meaning "round" > "such that rolls around; clumsy," from the initial sense also dialectal kucens (“fabric/knitting that has been rolled into a ball”), compare also dialectal kučka (“female dog; a roll, tumble [placing one's head down and rolling over]”).
The development of the sense "puppy" has been gradual: in the 17th century recorded as meaning "kitten" as well.
Up to mid 1930's the standard form was kucens. Viewing this term as a diminutive, the term kuce was reverse derived. The latter is absent from G. Mancelis' dictionary, the term kuņa is listed for the sense "female dog," in G. Elgers' dictionary kuca is listed along kuņa, kuce is not to be found in any 18th century dictionaries, nor K. Valdemārs' dictionary from the 19th century. J. Neikens & K. Ulmanis' dictionary lists kuca as a "rare word."
Alternative theories on the origin of kuce:
- kuce has been the primary form and kucēns its derivative, cf. Lithuanian kùcė (“sheep [child talk]; female dog”), kùcas, kùcinas (“a small dog, small horse; male sheep”)
- kuce is of the same origin as Latvian kaukt (“to howl”), cf. also Bulgarian куче (kuče, “dog”) [also Serbo-Croatian kuče (“puppy”), however, both of these are considered borrowings from Hungarian kutya]
- the term is based on the exclamation kuc! to call dogs (Berneker, Fraenkel, Endzelīns), however, Lithuanian kùc! is a call for pigs and kucà — for sheep.
Endzelīns also considers the possibility that kuce is a borrowing, Būga considers the origin of this term unclear.
kucēns m (1st declension)
- baby dog, puppy
kuce ar kucēniem ― a bitch with her puppies
- baby or young member of other canid species
lapsas kucēni ― fox puppies
vilcenei atskrējuši kucēni ― the (female) wolf gave birth to puppies
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