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Etymology scriptorium

Welcome to the Etymology scriptorium. This is the place to cogitate on etymological aspects of the Wiktionary entries.

July 2020

as best one can

How'd as best one can come to be? --Backinstadiums (talk) 10:35, 2 July 2020 (UTC)

@Backinstadiums:: it's a now-obsolete order of as one can best, i.e. "in the way that one can best", or "in the way that allows one to ... best". --ColinFine (talk) 22:32, 3 July 2020 (UTC)

dalle (Spanish)

RFV of the etymology. I can't find evidence for any Latin word dac?lum, and even if it did exist, I wouldn't expect it to become dalle in Spanish. Even a daculum with a short u (which is to be expected since -ulus/-ula/-ulum is a highly productive suffix in Latin) wouldn't become dalle, it would become *dajo or maybe *dejo. --Mah?gaja · talk 23:04, 4 July 2020 (UTC)

I was able to find a few sources citing dac?lum and have added them. Seems that the Spanish word was borrowed through Occitan or Catalan, though. DJ K-Çel (talk) 06:13, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
@Djkcel: Thanks for adding those! The DLE however marks the u with a breve, not a macron, confirming that it's short. --Mah?gaja · talk 06:19, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
To state the obvious: Cp. uncertain dagger s.v. The semantic divide can be bridged, of course, but Dacian being largely unknown is an unsolvable problem. 19:09, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
Thank you, DJ K-Çel and Mah?gaja. Is it worth mentioning the Occitan dalha in the entry (as well as dalh)? I have also found a few more sources. On pp. 169-170 of Language and Linguistic Contact in Ancient Sicily (2012, edited by Olga Tribulato), Oliver Simkin has relevant discussion, in which he says that the "easiest reconstruction is a protoform *d?alklo-, with loss of the first -l- in daculum and dissimilation to -n- in fancla and Zancle", and that "Late Latin daculum 'sickle, scythe' [is] [w]idely attested in Romance as French daille, Catalan dalla, Gascon dalh, Bearnaise dalha etc.; see Meyer-Lübke (1972: 229), Agud and Tovar (1990: 617)." Following those sources, we have Meyer-Lübke's entry *daculum in Romanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (1911) and Agud and Tovar's entry Dail(l)u in Materiales para un Diccionario Etimológico de la Lengua Vasca VIII. Simkin also cites J. B. Trumper (2005), a version of which is here (see PDF pp. 19-20). Trumper also mentions the attestation, "Gladium, ensem, telum, mucronem, sicam, daculum", which is in Paolo Gatti's Synonyma Ciceronis ('Arba', 'humus') (1993). --Thrasymedes (talk) 20:01, 9 July 2020 (UTC)

Glyph origin of ?

Currently it reads:

Ideogrammic compound (): ? ("roof") + ? ("carved jade") + ? ("shellfish; cowrie").

Looking at this page from ? @ , chiefly the bronze-script attestation, it appears to my eyes as ? or ?[]?, where ? is the one that resembles ? with a dot in each quadrant, and ? a (miniature) caldron.

- ? = 4th-last complete vertical column (from the right), 11th character (from the top)

My questions:

  • Why is the ? component glossed as "carved jade"? Naïvely I suppose "thorough; complete" would have been a more relevant gloss.
  • Is ? or ? the better transcription of the bottom component?
  • If the current Glyph origin is indeed a reasonable one, can we find verifiable citation?

--Frigoris (talk) 20:18, 5 July 2020 (UTC)


The etymology here is unsourced. popflock.com resource cites a source for a different etymology. Namely, it says that it derives from French loi ("law"). I'd like to see if anyone else has insight before I change it to match Wikipedia. Smashhoof (Talk · Contributions) 02:45, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

WP's etymology seems more likely given that r > l doesn't seem to be a sound change of Haitian Creole. The word for 'king' is wa/rwa. --Mah?gaja · talk 05:46, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
Mufwene says it's from Yoruba olúwa ("lord, god"), which makes more sense than any suggestion based on French. But we should admit that the etymology is uncertain. --?knowledgediscuss/deeds 06:43, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
  • I'm curious, what would account for the accented (presumably stressed?) medial /-u-/ in the given Yoruba etymon reducing so much? That seems unlikely somehow, though I confess I don't know the particulars of Haitian Creole. -- Eiríkr Útlendi |Tala við mig 16:36, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
    The acute accent marks tone, although it is my understanding that that syllable is also the stressed one in this word (though stress is less salient than in English). Anyway, this kind of phonetic erosion is quite unremarkable given the social context. --?knowledgediscuss/deeds 18:37, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
    Thank you! Any chance this was influenced by the phonetics of le roi? -- Eiríkr Útlendi |Tala við mig 18:51, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
    Why would it be? --?knowledgediscuss/deeds 19:10, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
    I've run into the roi etymology theory before outside of our entry, and I was curious if that might be one possible explanation for the vowel erosion. However, I see now that the definite article in Haitian Creole comes after the noun, making this much less likely of an influence. Cheers, -- Eiríkr Útlendi |Tala við mig 20:23, 9 July 2020 (UTC)


RFV of the etymology, added by an IP. - Jberkel 08:52, 9 July 2020 (UTC)

Even if it could be sourced as one might hope, it would still be one of many speculative theories (Anatoli Liberman has blogged about these). This particular theory sounds like Fornication Under Consent of the King or Orl Korrekt. The latter has some evidence in its favour, at least. 19:16, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
Thanks, found the Liberman post, I'll add it as reference point. - Jberkel 07:34, 10 July 2020 (UTC)

cutwal / katwal / kuthwal <  ?

The entries for English cutwal, Hindi (kotv?l) / (ko?v?l), Indonesian katwal, are all deriving from Persian ("castellan"), but the Persian word itself is apparently a borrowing from either Indic or Turkic languages. The word was apparently borrowed into Persian by the early Ghaznavid military. --Z 09:21, 9 July 2020 (UTC)

@ZxxZxxZ: I wouldn't be sure about the Turkic derivation, Sanskrit (ko?a) is a very well attested Sanskrit word and the Hindi (ko?v?l) is directly rom Sanskrit not Persian. Gotitbro (talk) 09:30, 9 July 2020 (UTC)

Icelandic and northern italian dialects

The icelandic word rusl (for garbage) has a cognate word in northern italian dialects (Piedmontese and Lombard, chiefly), rus or rüs, probaly derived from ancient Langobards or Longobards, a germanic tribe who ruled northern Italy in medieval age. Other variants of the name are ruda, rüff and similar around Milan. Another example is fé, icelandic for cattle, in some valleys in Piedmont feja means sheep or generic for domestic livestocks.

what language is this?

Does anyone know exactly what language the book Grammar of the Language of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indians by David Zeisberger is about? 18:57, 14 July 2020 (UTC)

The two Lenape languages, Munsee and Unami. --Mah?gaja · talk 19:23, 14 July 2020 (UTC)


While (Middle) Low German has had a substantial influence on Swedish vocabulary, this word is far more likely to be related to pojk or pojke. The latter theory is supported by the etymology on Swedish Wiktionary. Glades12 (talk) 11:44, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

Withdrawn. I made the amateurish mistake of not checking the references first. Glades12 (talk) 11:47, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
@Glades12: The defense appeals the withdrawing motion and seeks clarification: I don't buy it, yet. Granted, I cannot really read the Ordbok's entry for påk, and a derivation akin to "eng. poke" would depend on the explanation, but if attestation for pojke predates it by a century and matches semantically, there should be room for doubt. After all, we only say "possibly".
If there's a Low German comparand that meant "boy, child", we should say so specificly. Otherwise it's unfathomable for the regular user what the ordbok had in mind, IMHO. 18:33, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

trophy wife

According to an editor of Wikipedia's trophy wife page, the term is older than Wiktionary says. For example, https://www.etymonline.com/word/trophy says "attested by 1984". It will take some digging to find out which older uses match the "status symbol" definition. A woman brought back as the spoils of war is different from a woman attracted to wealth. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 20:54, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

But I always thought that the connotation in any case was that the woman was "like a prize" with regard to reflecting the status of the man. So if an elderly man with a lot of money had a young, very attractive wife, it was partially seen as a symbol of status.
If some blood-thirsty commander came back to his homeland with a young, attractive woman from a foreign land as his wife to symbolise his victory in that war, is the connotation not nearly identical? In both cases the wife is treated as a "trophy", rather than as a co-equal spouse in their wedlock, no? Moreover, in both cases, might there not be the connotation that if the man were not wealthy/had not been the commander of the victorious army, the woman would not have married him?
Am I off base in that perception of the term? Tharthan (talk) 21:52, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
They come from different senses of trophy (3 - prize taken in battle; 4 - a status symbol) and I would preserve that distinction in trophy wife. Also, a trophy wife (trophy sense 3) is more likely a victim while a trophy wife (trophy sense 4) is more likely a gold digger. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 23:14, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
The popflock.com resource paragraph seems mostly useless. "A 1950 issue of The Economist magazine called attention to the practice of victorious warriors marrying beautiful women captured in battle." doesn't actually say they used the phrase "trophy wife". The 1984 claim cites no actual evidence whatsoever. The 1965 reference to Bernie Madoff is quoted in a 2009 publication- what is the actual source? DTLHS (talk) 22:16, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
I posted here because I found the popflock.com resource page plausible but not leading directly to anything I could cite. I only see a Google Books snippet of the 2009 book so I don't have the citation for the alleged 1965 use. I theoretically have access to some archives that might help. (Lexis-Nexis and the like.) Unfortunately getting to them requires fighting with VPNs or temperamental library proxies. VPNs and I do not get along. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 23:14, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
Google Ngrams confirms an increase of use in 1984, and on Google books there's a cite from 1974: "Wayland, now sixty-five and married to a trophy wife, Amy, twenty years younger [...] ". So the 1989 date we give is definitely wrong. - Jberkel 02:15, 16 July 2020 (UTC)
According to this that book was published in 1996. DTLHS (talk) 02:48, 16 July 2020 (UTC)
Hmm yes, it's actually even more recent, supplement 18, published 2009. Sometimes Google's dates are wild guesstimates. - Jberkel 08:07, 16 July 2020 (UTC)

Dàshí < Tk/T?z?g or tk ?

The entry for the Chinese Dàshí derives it from Middle Persian t?cyk' (/T?tk/, late form /T?z?g/), but Chinese normally derive from other Middle Iranian languages, especially Sogdian. I suppose it could be determined on phonetic grounds, as the Sogdian cognate (as is the case with several other Middle Iranianlanguages, of course) is pronounced with /?/ instead of /t/ or /z/. --Z 11:54, 18 July 2020 (UTC)

Update to etymology of merula

Could someone verify if this update to the etymology of Latin merula by an IP is correct? The change was from Proto-Indo-European *ams- ("black; blackbird") to Proto-Indo-European *h?ems-, but our entry defines the latter as "to give birth, beget". Thanks. -- SGconlaw (talk) 07:32, 19 July 2020 (UTC)

On the one hand, there are numerous instances of homophony among PIE roots, and we don't always have all possible roots listed, so it's entirely possible that *h?ems- ("blackbird") exists without us having an entry for it yet. On the other hand, Reconstruction:Proto-Celtic/mesalk? says that although the Celtic, Germanic, and Italic words for "blackbird" are related to each other, there is some doubt as to whether they go back to a PIE root at all, but rather could be a loanword from a substrate language of western Europe. --Mah?gaja · talk 08:27, 19 July 2020 (UTC)
In that case, perhaps the etymology of merula needs updating? -- SGconlaw (talk) 08:31, 19 July 2020 (UTC)
Probably. I'd say all three etymologies should say the same thing, but if some modern scholars believe it does go back to a PIE root, and others believe it doesn't, then both hypotheses should be mentioned. Matasovi? refers to a 1997 article by Beekes in Historische Sprachforschung, while our entry Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/amsl? refers to Guus Kroonen's Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic; unfortunately I don't have access to either work to see what exactly they say. --Mah?gaja · talk 08:48, 19 July 2020 (UTC)


Where did the -- of the oblique forms come from? --Mah?gaja · talk 18:38, 19 July 2020 (UTC)

@mahagaja Beekes recounts that it might be from the adjective, in which case see -icos etc. Also mentione, a verb "to woe", cp. e.g. Ger. Angebetete. 07:30, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
@Mahagaja: It is often paralleled with Old Armenian --? (kan-ay-k?). See the literature I just added to (kin). --Vahag (talk) 05:17, 26 July 2020 (UTC)


Could this be from Old French happer? (Fintsternish), she/her (talk) 01:28, 21 July 2020 (UTC)

I added the etymology. The French is just a lookalike. --?knowledgediscuss/deeds 01:53, 21 July 2020 (UTC)

Etymology of Londra

What is the etymology of the Italian word for London (Londra)? It does not seem like it is inherited from Londinium or Lundonia. --Soumyabrata (talk o subpages) 14:45, 21 July 2020 (UTC)

@Soumya-8974: Romanophile actually already asked almost exactly the same question at Wiktionary:Tea room/2020/July#Londra, Londres. I speculated a possible answer there, and no one else has commented. --Mah?gaja · talk 14:56, 21 July 2020 (UTC)


Can any one advise on how much the technical meaning of this word in Pali grammar owes to Sanskrit? Also, a confirmation that the grammatical constructions are indeed different would be helpful. I thought it would be slam dunk for being a semantic loan from Sanskrit in this sense, but having compared dictionary entries I am no longer so sure. --RichardW57 (talk) 21:43, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

The word shows all the signs of being inherited from Proto-Indian Indic (not to be confused with what the word 'Sanskrit' means in British or American English), and I have recorded it as such. I should probably made some effort to show how it may have been regularly redundantly regenerated in Pali. --RichardW57 (talk) 21:43, 22 July 2020 (UTC)


The term niijii is sourced here in the Ojibwe People's Dictionary. However, the OPD shows the original term as niijikiwenh, not niikkaaniss. SteveGat (talk) 17:17, 23 July 2020 (UTC)

Revised. - -sche (discuss) 04:04, 24 July 2020 (UTC)


The French etymology is attested, but the sources of the Ojibwe siscowet look like folk etymology, and don't match the gloss cooks itself which should end with something like -dizo. For what its worth, i may have found the origin of the claim here, on p. 467. In a letter dated October 19, 1880, Robert Ormsby Sweeny claims that "the name 'sis-ko-wet' is an Ojibewa word, and means literally 'cooks itself.'" SteveGat (talk) 18:56, 23 July 2020 (UTC)

I revised it somewhat to give the etymology I see in modern English sources, "oily-meat fish", although in a very brief search I was only able to find the first of the two claimed elements in an Ojibwe dictionary. - -sche (discuss) 04:16, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
Thanks for doing that. I edited to add the fish meat and incorporating final elements. An even clearer source for that etymology can be found, apparently, in the 5th edition of the American Heritage dictionary. I found a reference on thefreedictionary.com, but don't have the original. That said, i find the pemitewiskawet/bemidewiskawed etymology ... fishy. Where did the bimide part go?
Another potential etymology would be *iskiskawed (it has "boiling-down" fish meat): isk- + i + -skaw- + -e + -d, which gets us closer to the purported "it cooks itself," but there seems to be no support for that from any authority that i can find. SteveGat (talk) 17:22, 30 July 2020 (UTC)

RFV of the etymology. The only way could be descended from b?rem- is if it was borrowed from some language in which b? became b. If it were a native inheritance it would of course begin with ?. The page Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/b?rem- doesn't mention this word as a descendant. --Mah?gaja · talk 20:21, 23 July 2020 (UTC)

Beekes does not call it not pre-Greek, notes the comparison *bhrem, finds it irregular as well and that--barely surprising--"Therefore it is rather an onomatopoetic word". The barbar etymology--or:myth, as I'd rather say in disbelieve--suggests that br- was found overall peculiar by Greeks, understandably, if '?-?' was a more gently /v-r/.
The entry subsumes bronte without explanation for the derivative, like we do, points to blemeaino for Homer's bremeainon and surmizes that -nt- denoted thunder, whereas the forms without t go for droning sounds in general. 01:21, 26 July 2020 (UTC)


The proposed etymology (actually for Michilimackinac) seems unsupported. A more likely one would be mishi-mikinaak (giant turtle), which is suggested here and here. See another discussion here.


The reference to Outchibouec is supported, as that is how the Jesuits wrote the term. The "pucker" source also seems supported here, but without details. I can't, however, find any reference to an ethnonymic prefix at all in Ojibwe (o- can mean they or their in certain contexts), and the cook and roast morphemes don't actually fit the morphology. At the same time, jiibw- does mean pointed and jiibwegin (fold to a point, cf. pucker?) certainly is closer than what is written here. There has to be some more solid documentation of such an important word, but i haven't been able to find it. SteveGat (talk) 03:16, 24 July 2020 (UTC)

Pinging @-sche, who has worked with Algonquian languages. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:56, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
I overhauled the etymology, giving the basic agreed-upon details first (when it entered English, and that it seems to have originally referred to just one band), and then the two most common/supported theories, that it relates either to the word for "puckering" [moccasins] or (less likely) to "writing". I added a sampling of other, less-likely / less-supported theories, picking ones I saw mentioned in multiple works; there are numerous others (e.g. some people have theorized it is connected to ojijaak ("crane")). - -sche (discuss) 05:01, 24 July 2020 (UTC)


When did aid come into any stage of English, under any spelling? It is in English in 1612 as ayde (see citation at drave and elsewhere) so possibly it was borrowed into Middle English. I changed the etymology to say derived from Middle French ayde instead of borrowed from (modern) French aide. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 12:50, 24 July 2020 (UTC)

The Online Etymology Dictionary dates the verb to ca. 1400 and the noun to the early 15th century (i.e. about the same time), so yes, I'd say it was borrowed into Middle English. --Mah?gaja · talk 20:21, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
Etymology 1 has been updated. Leasnam (talk) 14:50, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

Latin plurals in English

Are there any 4th declension Latin nouns in English, and if so, what is the plural? Dngweh2s (talk) 15:28, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

There are several, @Dngweh2s: status, prospectus for two. I suspect both of these have appeared on occasion with analogical plurals "stati", "prospecti", but as far as I know the plural is "statuses" etc. Our entries show "stat?s" and "prospectus" (without macron) as alternatives, but I doubt many people would understand. --ColinFine (talk) 21:53, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

Substrate word in Cantonese subdialects

@Justinrleung: Several Cantonese subdialects appear have a substrate word for the sense "tired" that is cognate with Thai ? (nai, "tired") and Zhuang naiq ("tired"). These are:

  • Zhongshan nai33 (in the merged departing tone)
  • Zhuhai nai33 (in the merged departing tone)
  • Yangjiang n?i24 (in dark departing tone)
  • Fengkai (Nanfeng) noe433 (in dark departing tone)
  • Xinxing nai44 (in dark departing tone)
  • Mengshan (Xihe) nuai44 (in dark departing tone)

Thai ? (nai) and Zhuang naiq are from Proto-Tai *?nj? ("tired; exhausted"), the tone B of which corresponds to the departing tone in Chinese. Are the aforementioned words indeed Tai-Kadai substrate words? RcAlex36 (talk) 03:31, 26 July 2020 (UTC)

@RcAlex36: It looks pretty plausible, especially with the clear tone correspondence. In terms of character choice, I can only find ? in . -- justin(r)leung (t...) | c=> } 03:57, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
I encountered this margin (blank page?) note a while back in this copy of A Vocabulary with Colloquial Phrases of the Canton Dialect:
Are you tired or not? nai m nai --Suzukaze-c (talk) 04:04, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
Also appears as in Williams' Tonic Dictionary. --Suzukaze-c (talk) 04:09, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
@Suzukaze-c: Interesting, but this means it's in instead of . --⁠This unsigned comment was added by RcAlex36 (talk o contribs).
True. But with all your other data, it might be a misprint. --Suzukaze-c (talk) 05:32, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
@RcAlex36, Suzukaze-c: Hmm, I looked around for more. I just checked and it writes it as ? (should've checked earlier). It's also used in Taishanese per this dictionary (/nai33/, in the merged + tone, no character given though). Chalmers and Dealy's English and Cantonese dictionary seems to have under the entry for "tired": (and it varies with ). -- justin(r)leung (t...) | c=> } 06:37, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
@Justinrleung, Suzukaze-c: Is the reduplicated syllable in Cantonese (gui6 laai4 laai4) related? (or c.f. ?) RcAlex36 (talk) 06:41, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
@RcAlex36: I've thought of that as well, but I'd be conservative about connecting it with the n- words listed here. Most sources have l- in Guangdong, which would not be a perfect match. I will note that records gui6 laai3 laai3 as a variant. We'll have to see if older sources still record this as having l-. -- justin(r)leung (t...) | c=> } 06:49, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
@Justinrleung: As a side note, some substrate words with an n- initial seem to be pronounced with an l- now (e.g. ?, ?, ?), so the evolution of would be gui6 naai3 naai3 -> gui6 laai3 laai3 -> gui6 laai4 laai4. This may just be due to though. RcAlex36 (talk) 06:56, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
@RcAlex36: Yeah, it's probably unreliable to look at modern speakers since the n/l merger is the norm in Hong Kong and it's probably not uncommon in Guangzhou as well. What you've proposed is a very plausible evolution except we'd need evidence for gui6 naai3 naai3. -- justin(r)leung (t...) | c=> } 07:04, 26 July 2020 (UTC)


I think the second paragraph is phrased rather unfortunately; the MNW gives several words for "Huns" in various languages as cognates to hune, if that is correct wouldn't huin and Hun be cognates as well? Lingo BingoDingo (talk) 07:17, 26 July 2020 (UTC)

I am not sure what the question is. For one, if you follow the links through to *h?naz ("top of a stick") [Kroonen 2013, *huna(n)-], there are Middle Dutch hune, with huin as descendent, as well as Middle English hune, colored blue, although we only have an entry for Middle French hune--so I'm not sure at all which hune you mean. In Kronen I only see "MDu. hune "crow's nest", neither any association to hune, huin, Hühne "giant". More over, the MNW entry you link only lists comparisons without individual etymologies, that might as well be loans, not indicating cognates in the strict sense.
Second, Middle Dutch post-dates the Hunni. Third, the varying semantics make for a rather puzzling reconstruction, so the question is a lot deeper than your short inquiry leads on, not the least because of the importance of dolmen and burial mounds for comparative pre-history. Last but not least, a PIE root glossed "swelling" will always be subject to interpretation in context (followed shortly by "to cut", or "shine", but paling in comparison to the dozens of Sami words for snow).
While perusing Kronen, I incidently stumbled over *hlaiw- "barrow, funeral mound". Several detours later about superficially similar roots I concluded slightly manic:
... I found *hunsla- n. "sacrifice" to be notable, with hlaw back in mind (...)--Kronen sees a *sla*-suffix, however, and a root *k'uent- (cf. e.g. Lith. sventas, SCr. svet "sacred, holy", modulo diacrits), which incidently is formally equivalent to *k'uent-o > *hwinda- "greyhound" (cf. Ger. Windhund, cp. *hunda- "dog", *kuon-, or *kwon in our formalism), which reminds a little of *hruthjan- "male dog" (cf. e.g. Ger. Rüde) specificly because "Also cf. OE hroth-hund 'big dog, molossus'"--I'd emphasise "big".
The quint-essence of this is that the interpretation hunebed "a giant's bed" appeared dubious to me, initially, and it still is, but ...
Alas, I cannot fathom any rebuttal. We have *hunaz- from *kewH-, which is formally at least similar in either the athematic aorist *kuh1-ent, or the s-stativ (?) with *-no- (?), *kuh1-no-s, where *huna- is listed red-linked and with a question mark, followed by some of the expected reflexes (q.v.). Interestingly, rather for *hunsla it was remarked that "It is unclear whether this root was adjectival or verbal in PIE, but in Germanic, the sla-suffix is usually added to verbal stems, ..." with reference to *swim*-words, which in my mind only adds to the confusion, not only because *swimming* is inherently ambiguous as participle or gerund, regardless of the comparison to "Go. swum(f)sl n. 'pool' < *swum-sla", but also because *-sal is down for water words, cp. Ger. Rinnsal, Gerinnsel, so that a more important suggestion to compare sven- above might have been implied (glossing myself, cp.: verschwimmen "to blur", schwammig "imprecise, soft; spongiform", versus schwinden "to weaken, fade, disappear", verschwenden "to waste", *(s)mer- "to disappear, die", perhaps *(s)neh2- "to swim", *neh2- "ship", cf. navis, Ger. Nussschale "small boat, one master; nut-shell"). 21:37, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
Can anyone make sense of ^that^ or should I just hat/collapse it? Is it the user who liked to point at random similarities (or another user in that vein)? - -sche (discuss) 18:40, 31 July 2020 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you think random here. *kwen- and *k'ewH- should be invariant for *hun- and the former matches semantically a lot better. This is at least tangentially relevant for the Huns, even if I mostly missed what the question was about. There's certainly been some excess, but the system identified attempts at redaction as possibly malicious. All IP-posts in the last weeks are mine, btw. 01:37, 3 August 2020 (UTC)

heft (Old Norse)

Should the sheep-related senses of heft (noun and verb) go under a different ety section from the weight-related senses? According to [1], the etymology of the sheep-related sense is 'Old Norse vb. Heftda (inf.) Heftdadra (past) "...acquired by right or prescription.")'. My Old Norse is, erm, limited. Is this heftda related or unrelated to the old Norse hefð that we currently list as the global origin of heft? Mihia (talk) 18:04, 26 July 2020 (UTC)

Moved to Etymology 2. Leasnam (talk) 21:48, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
@Leasnam: Thanks very much for looking at that and sorting it out. Mihia (talk) 00:30, 27 July 2020 (UTC)

The mystery of the missing *-w-: Proto-Germanic *Auziwandilaz, *Audawakraz

Wondering about this:

  • *Auziwandilaz yields forms with -w-, as in ON Aurvandil, Lombardic Auriwandalo, but contrast OE Earendel, OHG Orentil and, perhaps most puzzlingly, Gothic auzandil.
  • *Audawakraz yields forms with -w-, as in OE Eadwacer, but contrast OHG Otacher.

Am I missing something, is there some logic to this? Why the seeming inconsistency? Especially when comparing the Old English Earendel and Eadwacer, it seems arbitrary. If anyone knows any similar examples in which PGmc intervocalic -w- disappears without any apparent trace, I would be interested.

(An additional problem in interpreting these is that most of them are difficult-ish to reconstruct PGmc proper nouns, and not all descendants linked to them here may in fact belong to them; for example, the source of the name Odoacer is in fact disputed, and OHG Otacher refers to this historical figure in all its attestations and may represent an early borrowing.) -- Mnemosientje (t · c) 11:18, 27 July 2020 (UTC)


Almost every entry on this page is listed as being borrowed directly from Slovak, which I think is extremely unlikely. I think a lot of them are rather borrowed from Russian or should be listed as ultimately from Slovak. I also think it is worth noting that this occurred in a single edit. Thoughts? -K (talk) (edits) 16:17, 27 July 2020 (UTC)


The etymology as a female dog seems very popular on the internet (spelled uhnemoosh). However, i can't find an authoritative source that specifies female. animosh definitely means dog, at least. SteveGat (talk) 18:24, 27 July 2020 (UTC)

tabiya (chess jargon)

This chess jargon is still in use in its source language, Arabic, which easies things. Current version wrongly says: Etymology: From Arabic ? (?aba, "normal manner"). But the Arabic for tabiya is ta?biyya, also ta?bi'a (root ). It's the nominalization of a verb meaning, apart from chess use:

  • Set in order, dispose or arrange the army in their places (Edward Willian Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon).
  • To set troops in order (Francis Joseph Steingass)
  • .. ? ? (Lis?n al-?Arab, Ibn Manzur).

It's also worth noting that ancient Arab chess rules differed a bit from those of today's chess, e.g. queen and rooks had a shorter reach, so both sides or armies deployed their units thus adopting a ta?bi'a ( ) before they could threaten or capture a piece.

For a fast look of current use of ta?bi'a / as a chess jargon: (search engine results in Arabic).

--Pablo Tornielli (talk) 20:17, 27 July 2020 (UTC)

@Pablo Tornielli: The jargon still bein in use does not necessarily ease things, this might be an etymologic fallacy. It might even complicate things, if it had two etymologies. What's your source to say tabi'a was "wrong"--mere disbelieve? Or is it formally impossible so as to be not convincing? Personally, I wonder if it could be from Sumero-Akkadian, e.g. DUB, tabbu "tablet", DIB "board", A(N) "house" [ePSD]--and it would be easy to poke holes in this to incure doubt, because I'm no syriologist. Chess is from Persian, anyhow.
Unless you are absolutely certain, it would be better to add both, letting ambiguity show uncertainty, preferably instead of having one over the other without an argument or solid references. You might think it's obviously a mishearing from a foreign speaker, but, since Arabic is full of dialects, the same argument would hold there, too. The super convincing glosses by Lane might be later, couldn't it be?
The type of opening played is rather important, still.
A search for "" finds twofold: [? ? ?], but "arrange" rather under [] (root: "? ? ?"), the latter agreeing formall with Maltese [tag?bija] though semantics seem difficult (perhaps charge?) and we translate [mobilization] " f (ta?bi?atun)". Essentially this only leaves " -b- " (as my browser lacking font support renders it anyway), which is amazing in light of PIE *bhu- "become, grow", cf. physis, inviting further consideration for ?aba "nature", cp. genesis "beginning, creation" from the same root as nature. ~~
  • What's your source to say tabi'a is wrong?
In the first place, the complete absence of references linking tabiya with ?aba (). Current version fails to give any evidence whatsoever about the use of ?aba in Arabic chess jargon, in any era. On the other side, ta?bi'a () does appear in ancient Arabic chess manuscripts (e.g. this one) with a related meaning and in the same context.
  • The glosses by Lane might be later?
Not really, since his Arabic-English Lexicon lies on classical, medieval texts and dictionaries. Also, take a look at my other quotations, particularly Lis?n al-?Arab (ca. 1290 AD).
  • Arabic is full of dialects
Both ?aba and ta?bi'a belong to the fu lexicon.
  • Chess is from Persian, anyhow.
The word chess? Perhaps. The game is from India and went through Persia and the Arab world before reaching Europe. It keeps etymologycal traces of that long travel.
--Pablo Tornielli (talk) 17:34, 28 July 2020 (UTC)
@Stephen G. Brown: Do you want to support the etymology from ?aba, and perhaps the Arabic etymon in a chess context, with a reference or citation? Otherwise I don't think anyone will object to an update. The history of chess is only roughly known, by the way. The de.WP alleges reformation of rules in the 15th century, possibly in Spain--which would be one plausible avenue for Arabic into the jargon, and from quite a different dialect, with other semitic scribes active in the cultural sphere--who knows what they thought it meant? I'm not sure if that's important for the general history, but any comparison to Hebrew as a general example might be worthwhile for the individual lemmas. de.WP further alleges presence in Europe at the latest in the 13th CE, but no route. 18:43, 28 July 2020 (UTC)
Stephen G. Brown may no longer be with us in the land of the living, so he is not in a position to support or not support it. He has been missing for over a year, unfortunately. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 02:54, 29 July 2020 (UTC)


Etymology of Saipan? --⁠This unsigned comment was added by Manabimasu (talk o contribs).

Yes check.svg Added to the best of my ability. --?knowledgediscuss/deeds 02:44, 28 July 2020 (UTC)


The descendants could really use some restructuring. Also, we have both universitei and université as Old French lemmas, and I'm not sure which should be the main form. I recently added rfe to French université because of this. Ultimateria (talk) 17:50, 28 July 2020 (UTC)


Early revisions of that page, sensibly, derived it directly from Proto-Slavic *tolk?no. At present, there is an absurd claim that this word is derived from modern Russian ?. Any sources for that claim? --⁠This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

It's not directly from either of those two, it's an Old East Slavic borrowing. — surjection⟩ 13:46, 30 July 2020 (UTC)
One of the cases from Proto-Slavic proper actually; note the retention of -lk-. --Tropylium (talk) 02:27, 2 August 2020 (UTC)


If l?n was an alternative form of l?n in Old English, what makes us so sure that Modern English loan doesn't derive from that alternative form, or partially derive from it? Is it because the verb l?nan produced lend? Tharthan (talk) 16:51, 31 July 2020 (UTC)

The Old English alternative form l?n was only ever found in the compound l?nland, itself a rare variant (occurring just once) of l?nland ("land let out on lease"). Leasnam (talk) 02:51, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
I see. So it is nigh impossible that it had any influence. Thanks for clearing that up. Tharthan (talk) 06:41, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
The IPA for the continuation of the Old Norse word, where given, is rather telling, too, e.g. Faroese /l:n/. 07:38, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
Although, how do you explain the Middle English variants lane and lone; is it reasonable to suggest a hard devide, if a more difficult process could take place, in case the variants suggest shifting sounds; specifically, is replacement (which we often suggest in other entries) strictly implied @Leasnam, Tharthan. 13:01, 1 August 2020 (UTC)


Does anyone have an idea of what the Classical Syriac word akin to Hebrew ?("vault of heaven, celestial dome"), from the root (r-q-`) referred to in the etymology of firmament might be? -- SGconlaw (talk) 18:14, 31 July 2020 (UTC)

Think I figured it out, as there was a Classical Syriac entry linked to the English one: it appears to be Classical Syriac ("compact; firm; firmament, heavens, sky; celestial sphere"), from the root ?-?-?(r-q-?) ("relating to compacting"). If someone could provide a transliteration of the Syriac word that would be great. -- SGconlaw (talk) 19:15, 31 July 2020 (UTC)

The entry has "r?q". Is that not what you are looking for?  --Lambiam 21:05, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
I added that after @Fay Freak updated the etymology at firmament. -- SGconlaw (talk) 21:55, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

Is -i?kas an assumption?

I am skeptical of Reconstruction talk:Proto-Balto-Slavic/-i?kas and Reconstruction:Proto-Slavic/-?sk?.

  1. assuming /?/ in the older form is from the ruki sound law, why did ruki occur in the first place given that it wasnt following one of /r w k j/? /i/ is not /j/ and does not trigger the sound law.
  2. Why would it have /sk/ in Slavic and /?k/ in Baltic? that doesnt seem to match what appears on popflock.com resource for Slavic sound changes, which suggests the required /?/ > /s/ sound change only occurs when a vowel immediately follows. Our reconstruction has the cluster going back to PIE, with no disappearing yer.
  3. also, the traditional proto-Slavic form ends in a back yer, ?. why not an /a/-like vowel? is it grammatical analogy?

Thanks, --Soap-- 21:15, 31 July 2020 (UTC)

  1. RUKI rule does apply after syllabic i and u as well, e.g. Proto-Balto-Slavic *snu? from Proto-Indo-European *snusós.
  2. I don't know for sure, but since PBS *? normally becomes PSl. *x when it isn't palatalized, I can believe that *xk would have been too uncomfortable a consonant cluster, so that in that environment *? reverted to *s instead.
  3. This question doesn't apply only to this suffix. All masculine o-stems, both nouns and adjectives, end in ?, which is not expected as a reflex of PIE *-os and PBS *-as. Various people have proposed various explanations for this; I think the most popular theory is that ? spread from the u-stems. --Mah?gaja · talk 22:40, 31 July 2020 (UTC)
Thanks, but I cant accept that as the final answer .... if the sound change took place after full vowels, w:Ruki sound law needs to be corrected to say so ... and wouldnt that have led to all sorts of symptoms, like word-final -i? and -u?, which would not have contrasted with -is and -us? The only way I can see to fit -iskos into this pattern is to assume that it sometimes appeared after vowels, which is fair, but we're out on a limb there, which is what I mean by my original question .... of whether this reconstruction is simply an assumption on our part, not something described previously by scholars such as Holger Pedersen, etc. Thanks, --Soap-- 07:11, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
You're right; I've edited the popflock.com resource article to indicate it happens after the syllabic allophones of *r, *w, and *y as well. The article does say as well that RUKI doesn't happen before consonants in Slavic. And in Proto-Indo-Iranian, nonneuter i-stems and u-stems are indeed reconstructed as ending in *-i? and *-u?. In PBS, on the other hand, our reconstructions do show *-is and *-us, so maybe the "not before consonants" rule should be expanded to "not in syllable-final (coda) position". I don't know much at all about PBS, though, so I don't know if that would have undesirable repercussions elsewhere in the system. --Mah?gaja · talk 08:11, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
Okay thank you. My real issue here is that I dont believe PIE had plain velars, and so I am trying to tear down the etymologies of any reconstructed word that relies on them .... so in this case, my goal was to show that Balto-Slavic languages must have loaned the morpheme from proto-Germanic or even from Greek at a later date. But I didnt use that as one of my three points because it woukd have been a circular argument. So I'm satisfied now that this etymology is solidly reconstructed. Perhaps PIE /sk?/ simply behaved as /sk/ all along and that makes this idea moot. But Im glad I was able to contribute something helpful indirectly by bringing the mistake on the popflock.com resource article to light. Thanks, --Soap-- 10:30, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
I think reconstructing three velar series for the latest stage of PIE is pretty unavoidable, but it's not implausible that the plain velar series is later and comes partly from a phonemic merger of positional allophones of the palatal and labiovelar series and partly from analogy/paradigm leveling. --Mah?gaja · talk 11:28, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

August 2020

@Justinrleung, Frigoris, Suzukaze-c What exactly does the second syllable, ?, mean, and what is its etymology? Is it onomatopoeic? It's not used in isolation and appears only in compounds. There is another compound in ancient texts, which also means "throat" and the ? presumably cognate with ? and just a dialectal pronunciation of ? at the time. Interestingly, Hokkien has instead of , and in some Hakka dialects it's instead. So what is the nature of ? of RcAlex36 (talk) 14:36, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

@RcAlex36: I've no idea. As you wrote was in the Houhanshu; Hui Dong in his commentary to the commentaries simply mentions that ? (OC *?a:) and ? (OC *?o:) sounds similar here: ?.
Looking for something about ?, the STEDT has *lwam, with a note "... [t]his etymon, which never occurs as an initial syllable in a compound", in proto-Tibeto-Burman (with Achang () kh?m l?m³?, which to me sounds a bit like a cognate to , possibly borrowed from Sinitic or vice versa). There's also this page in STEDT with a caveat emptor preface, that lists (at the very end of page) Myanmar khro?, Yi ?-kro?² etc, which sounds suspiciously like the reconstruction of ? (OC *ro:?, *ro:, *ro?) (B-S reconstruction /*k.r?o?/). But I don't know what to make of these.
Also the STEDT writes about "the frequently noted tendency of words meaning NECK / THROAT to have velar initials". If we may add, as pure fantasy, "followed by a lateral consonant", as in PGmc *kel? and comparandum words there, Ancient Greek ? (gl?ssís), Latin gula, Arabic (?ulq?m), etc., and also --Frigoris (talk) 19:48, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
@Frigoris: Thanks for your detailed reply! RcAlex36 (talk) 03:09, 3 August 2020 (UTC)

give up the ghost

Since German den Geist aufgeben, Swedish ge upp andan, Dutch de geest geven, Icelandic gefa upp öndina, Afrikaans die gees gee, French rendre l'âme, Italian rendere l'anima and Spanish entregar el alma are all relatively close parallels to the English, I wonder whether they are all calqued from a common source. Is there perhaps a Latin phrase that corresponds to this? The Dutch idiom seems to have often been used to render Biblical Hebrew , so it does not look like a calque from Hebrew. Lingo BingoDingo (talk) 16:39, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

@Lingo Bingo Dingo: This is very interesting. For Mark 15:37 I can find in the Tyndale bible "and gave vp the gooste". In Greek bibles it reads (ekpné?), and the Vulgate Latin reads exsp?r?, both meaning "expire = breathe out" and formed by the ex- prefix with a verb that means "to breathe". The Old English glosses translate that (idiomatically) to forþf?ran, literally "go forward", figuratively "die". Wycliffe's Bible also had it as "diede" (= died). So probably the Wycliffe (late 14th century) and the Tyndale (16th century) could be used to roughly bracket the English phrase's dating.
It's interesting to read in the popflock.com resource page Tyndale Bible that "When translating the New Testament, he referred to the third edition (1522) of Erasmus's Greek New Testament, often referred to as the Received Text. Tyndale also used Erasmus' Latin New Testament, as well as Luther's German version and the Vulgate. Scholars believe that Tyndale stayed away from using Wycliffe's Bible as a source because he did not want his English to reflect that which was used prior to the Renaissance." I've put up a link that points to the text with the mentioned versions. --Frigoris (talk) 13:15, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
@Frigoris Thank you, I am glad that you have found some concrete findings to discuss. The Latin and Greek terms exsp?r? and seem like a close parallel to Hebrew . As for the date of the English word, the English etymology gives Middle English and Old English examples (thanks @Leasnam) There is a similar Middle Dutch term: gaf den geest (not very clear context) and hevet den geest upgegeven (more similar to the English expression). The fact that it is also present in Spanish and Italian would suggest that it wasn't an innovation by Protestant translators either. Lingo BingoDingo (talk) 17:03, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
It's used in translations of Medea (e.g. wikisource:Medea (Webster 1868): "at length the evil-fated man / ceased and gave up the ghost" and wikisource:Tragedies of Euripides (Way)/Medea: "at last refrained he, and gave up the ghost, / ill-starred") to render Euripides' " ?' ' ? ". It's a tolerably literal translation of the two Greek works I linked there, especially since using "ghost" to mean "soul" or "spirit" was formerly more common. I wouldn't expect Medea to have originated the expression, though; rather, its occurrence there suggests it might be found in other Greek works, potentially including religious ones. But given that aforementioned older use of "ghost" to mean "soul", I suspect it may have been independently come up with in multiple languages as a phrase that would have seemed literal/straightorward/SOP to a speaker who believed humans had souls that departed their bodies when they died. - -sche (discuss) 04:55, 4 August 2020 (UTC)

Credit for "biology"

Who gets credit for the word biology or biologie? The weight of search results points to Lamarck coining French biologie in 1802. However, Trésor de la langue française informatisé[2] says "Empr. à l'all. Biologie, mot forgé en 1802 par le naturaliste G.R. Treviranus dans Biologie oder die Philosophie der lebenden Natur" ("Influenced by German Biologie, coined in 1802 by naturalist G.R. Treviranus in..."). Arguably French borrowed it from German. And the etymology given here for biology says it came from New Latin, not French or German. Any thoughts? Any sightings prior to 1802? Vox Sciurorum (talk) 19:59, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

Depends on your demarcation. It is argued that the compositum was made independently by three, DWDS says, linking w:de:Roose, where the same is reported, more specificly in the "Grundzüge" (1797).
They all wrote, thought and perhaps too spoke Latin. The word had likely not entered general German--it is not in Grimm's DWB (1854-1863). The word and word-form is recognizable as loan, in German at least, I'd say. So the word was from New Latin, and the intermediary doesn't matter much. At least that's the easier stance. Therefore, independent coinage after as DWDS implies after a then current pattern doesn't even come into question, unless you want to credit all three, four, and who knows how many more. 06:49, 3 August 2020 (UTC)


Entomology: Let me try a guess... Perhaps it comes from adding 'chat' (talk, talking) to 'chit' (child, babe). IE: babies or babes conversing.

You might want to double-check the meaning of entomology. --Mah?gaja · talk 15:24, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
I've updated the etymology at chit-chat. Leasnam (talk) 02:17, 4 August 2020 (UTC)


The rfe-tag explanation probably speeks for itself. I couldn't find any occurence of the independent lemma "kokka" in Ingrian, but perhaps I didn't look hard enough. Thadh (talk) 20:13, 3 August 2020 (UTC)


The Latin and Proto-West Germanic are listed as borrowing from the other. Ultimateria (talk) 04:44, 5 August 2020 (UTC)

Not quite. The Latin verb is borrowed from the Germanic verb, which is a derivative of the Germanic noun, which is borrowed from the Latin noun. --Mah?gaja · talk 06:55, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
Sorry, I realize now the above comment isn't an answer to your point. --Mah?gaja · talk 10:41, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
I've corrected the etymology at *kampij?. Leasnam (talk) 03:10, 7 August 2020 (UTC)

@Justinrleung, Frigoris, Suzukaze-c Since Hakka has (vug5 ka1) for "home", wouldn't it be reasonable to assume Cantonese (uk1 kei5-2) and the Hakka word are related? Interestingly, Yangjiang, Maoming and Gaozhou have (with the second syllable having an unaspirated k-) instead of . Is the second syllable of and in Cantonese and Hakka just ? from an earlier stratum? RcAlex36 (talk) 08:11, 6 August 2020 (UTC)

@RcAlex36: It's possible, but unclear to me. ? (or ?) is reasonable given a home is where one stands (or lives). I'm not sure why it's unaspirated in the western varieties. -- justin(r)leung (t...) | c=> } 21:24, 6 August 2020 (UTC)


So, what's the deal with this?

We say that this derives Middle Dutch aenslag, yet we also say in onslaught's entry that onslaught originated as an alteration of anslaight.

So... did native English speakers convert the parts of the clearly Dutch-originated word, some time after having borrowed it, into more or less its corresponding English cognates? Something akin what was (at least) attempted when Dutch oproer and Dutch verloren hoop were borrowed into English (as "uproar" and "forlorn hope" respectively)?

Or have onslaught and anslaight coexisted from the time of first borrowing of the Dutch word, one being something akin to a calque, whereas the other was merely a borrowing? Tharthan (talk) 06:00, 7 August 2020 (UTC)

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