Archive for the Category: Etymology

Schurrbart

I came across the wonderful German word Schnurrbart [ˈʃnʊrba:ɐ̯t] recently and just liked the sound of it. The Bart part means beard – you can see the connection – and the Schnurr part comes from schnurren (to purr). According to Wikipedia: “Ein Schnurrbart ist ein über der Oberlippe wachsender Bart.” or “A moustache is an […]

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Market places

Last week the origins of the word agora came up in conversation and I thought I’d find out more. An agora was a place of gathering or marketplace in Ancient Greece. It comes from the Ancient Greek ἀγείρω [ageirō] (I gather, collect), from the Proto-Indo-European *ger- (to assemble, gather together), which is the root of […]

Also posted in English, Greek, Language, Latin, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European 5 Comments

Voices and calls

After writing yesterday’s post I was thinking about the Czech word hlas [ɦɫas] (voice, vote) and realised that it is quite similar to the Welsh word for voice, llais [ɬais]. I wondered it they share the same root. Hlas comes from the Proto-Slavic *golsъ (voice), from the Proto-Balto-Slavic *galsas (voice), from the Proto-Indo-European *golHsos, from […]

Also posted in Czech, Dutch, English, German, Irish, Language, Old Norse, Polish, Proto-Indo-European, Romanian, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Slovak, Welsh, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Souhlasím

I learnt a useful Czech expression today – souhlasím – which means ‘I agree; all right; ok(ay)’. The element hlas (voice; sound; vote) I recognise, and I guessed that the prefix sou- might mean together, or something similar. According to Wiktionary, sou- is akin to the English prefix co- (together, mutually, jointly), so souhlasím might […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Attercop

In The Hobbit, Bilbo uses the words attercop, lazy lob, crazy cob, and old tomnodd as insults he’s attacked by giant spiders in Mirkwood. I guessed that they are alternative names for spiders, but I thought I’d check. Attercop is a word for spider from the Old English átorcoppe, from átor/attor (poison) and coppe, from […]

Also posted in Danish, English, Language, Norwegian, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Towns, gardens and fences

Last week I went to Denbigh, a small town in the north east of Wales, to sing in a concert. On the way there there was some discussion about the origins and meaning of the name Denbigh. So I thought I’d find out more. The English name of the town doesn’t mean anything, but the […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, German, Irish, Language, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Smoking Funky Radio

The word radio is based on the verb to radiate, which comes from the Latin radius, which means stick rod; beam, ray (of light); shuttle (of loom); rod for drawing figures (in mathematics), radius of circle; long olive (plant); spoke (of wheel). Radio or radiotelegraphy, the wireless transmission of signals through space by electromagnetic radiation […]

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Mountains and molehills

I discovered yesterday that the French word for mole is taupe /top/, and I wondered if this might be related to the English word taupe, which, according to the OED, means ‘A brownish shade of grey resembling the colour of moleskin’ or in others words, mole-coloured. The English word taupe comes from the French, which […]

Also posted in English, French, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments

A Snell Wind

The Scots phrase, a snell wind, appears in one of the books I’m reading at the moment, and as I hadn’t come across it before it mystified me a bit. It’s some kind of wind, but what kind? According to the OED, snell is a Scots and Northern English word meaning: 1. (of a person) […]

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When I haver

In the Proclaimers song I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), which we often sing in the Bangor ukulele club, the Scots word haver makes several appearances (see the lyrics here), and none of us know what it means. I thought it meant something like to shout, like holler, or to cry. According to The Online Scots […]

Also posted in English, Language, Scots, Words and phrases 2 Comments