Archive for the Category: Proto-Indo-European

Uitsmijter

The other day I came across the wonderful Dutch word uitsmijter, which means bouncer or doorman, and also a type of food consisting of toast, egg(s), ham, bacon or other meat, cheese and pickles is various combinations. Apparently this is the kind of thing that some Dutch people like to eat after the bars close […]

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Also posted in Danish, Dutch, English, Etymology, German, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Dirks, Saxons and Messers

I discovered today that dolch is the German equivalent of dirk, the dagger that is worn in the sock in Scottish Highland dress (see photo). The dirk is known as a sgian dubh (black knife or secret knife) in Scottish Gaelic, and the word dirk, which first appeared in English as dork in the 17th […]

Also posted in Danish, Dutch, English, Etymology, French, German, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Swedish, Words and phrases 9 Comments

Knowledge and seeing

I discovered today that there is a connection between the Gaelic word for knowledge, information, news – fios in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, fys in Manx – and the English words video and wit. Their roots can all be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root woid-/wid- (to see/to know), which, according to the OED, is […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Greek, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Sanskrit, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Cars, carts and chariots

Last week I was told that the English word car originally comes from the Irish word carr (donkey cart). Apparently when cars came to Ireland Irish speakers thought it was better to come up with a new word for them than to name them after the humble donkey cart, so the term gluaisteán (‘moving thing’) […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, French, Irish, Italian, Language, Latin, Manx, Spanish, Words and phrases 2 Comments

True sisters

The word for sister in Irish is deirfiúr /dʲɾʲəˈfˠuːɾˠ/, and it has always puzzled me why this word is so different from the words for sister in the other Gaelic languages: piuthar /pju.ər/ in Scottish Gaelic and shuyr /ʃuːr/ in Manx. Yesterday I discovered that deirfiúr is in fact a combination of deirbh /dʲɾʲəv/ (true) […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 10 Comments

Gendarmes et policiers

Yesterday there was some discussion of the police at the French Conversation Group – one of the members is a former policeman. We use the word policier, but later I remembered that another French word for policeman is gendarme, and it suddenly dawned on me that gendarme probably comes from gens d’armes (armed man). I […]

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Panache, pegs and pinafores

One thing we discussed last night at the French Conversation Group was whether panache means the same thing in French as it does in English. According to the OED, panache [/pəˈnaʃ/ (UK) /pəˈnæʃ/ (USA)] comes from the Middle French pennache, which originally meant a tuft or plume of feathers, and by the late 19th century […]

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Pozo

Last night I learnt a song, En el pozo María Luisa (In the Maria Lusia mine), from a Spanish friend. This song, which is also known as Nel Pozu Maria Luisa or Santa Bárbara Bendita, comes from Asturias in north west Spain and is usually sung in Asturian, Spanish or a mixture of the two. […]

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Word skipping to Venus

I was asked today about the origins of the word worship. The person who asked was told by a highly-educated minister that “worship” is derived from an old English word, “word-skip”. Supposedly, “word-skip” means “word shaper” or “shaper of words”. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary: worship comes from the Old English worðscip, wurðscip (Anglian), […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Italian, Language, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, Words and phrases 17 Comments

Telling tales

Earlier this week I went to a Christmas show entitled Beasts and Beauties in Kendal. It wasn’t a traditional Christmas pantomime, though did include some pantomimesque elements, but rather a series of eight fairy/folk tales from around Europe, including: – The Emperor’s New Clothes or Kejserens nye Klæder by Hans Christian Andersen (Danish) – Bluebeard […]

Also posted in Danish, English, Etymology, French, German, Language, Norwegian, Old Norse, Words and phrases 9 Comments