Carpets and harvests

I moved into my new house yesterday and am currently having new carpets fitted, which got me wondering about the origins of the word carpet.

Carpet has been traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root *kerp- (to pluck, gather, harvest) via the Old French carpite (heavy decorated cloth), the Middle Latin carpita (thick woolen cloth) the past participle of the Latin carpere (to card, pluck).

*kerp- is also the root of the English word harvest, the Greek καρπός (karpos – fruit, grain, produce, harvest, children, poetry [fruit of the mind], profit); and the Irish ciorraigh (to cut, hack, maim).

Sources: Online Etymology Dictionary and Wiktionary.

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, French, Greek, Irish, Language, Latin, Words and phrases.

12 Responses to Carpets and harvests

  1. TJ says:

    when we say “Old French”, which era would that be fitted with?

  2. fiosachd says:

    The end of the Early Middle Ages, the whole of the High Middle Ages, and the beginning of the Late Middle Ages (9th-14th centuries).

  3. michael farris says:

    Very odd, in Polish, carpet is dywan (related to divan, usually something you sit on in other languages). I have no idea how that semantic shift happened.

  4. Simon says:

    Michael – there’s an interesting post on the word divan on languagehat – it seems its origins have been traced back to the Sumerian dub (tablet, letter) and the Old Persian vahanam (house), via Turkish, Persian and Akkadian.

  5. Declan says:

    Have a nice time in your new house!

    That got me wondering, what’s the origin of the German Teppich?

  6. Yenlit says:

    So are ‘carp’ the fish and the verb ‘to complain’ and ‘carpal’ as in related to the wrist related etymologically to ‘carpet’ then?
    Declan – I don’t know about the German ‘Teppich’ but it looks similar to French ‘tapis’ and ‘tapisserie’ – tapestry?

  7. TJ says:

    @fiosachd: go raibh maith agat mo chara:)

  8. Simon says:

    Yenlit – carp the fish comes via the Old French carpe and Vulgar Latin carpa from a Germanic word – probably from the Gothic *karpa.

    The verb ‘to carp’ comes from the Old Norse karpa (to brag), which is possibly related to the Latin carpere (to card, pluck), so might have the same root as carpet.

    Carpal comes via the Latin carpalis from the Greek καρπός (karpos – wrist).

    Tapestry is a variant of tapissery, from the Middle French tapisserie (tapestry), from tapisser (to cover with heavy fabric), from tapis (heavy fabric), from Old French tapiz, from Vulgar Latin *tappetium, from Byzantine Greek tapetion, from a classical Greek diminutive of τάπης (tápes – tapestry, heavy fabric) probably from an Iranian source (cf. Persian taftan, tabidan [to turn, twist]).

    The German Teppich from the same root as tapestry via the Latin tapete (carpet, tapestry).

  9. fiosachd says:

    Sa Ghaeilge –

    TJ: “Go raibh maith agat mo chara.”

    fisidecht: “Go ndéana sé maith duit.”

    Anns a’ Ghàidhlig –

    TJ: “Gun robh math agad, mo charaid.”

    fiosachd: “’S e do bheatha.”

  10. Petréa Mitchell says:

    In Japanese, 疊 tatami means a type of mat. When I first encountered 折疊 oritatami, I parsed it as “folding mat”, which sounded odd to me because the word was used to mean an umbrella.

    Later, I learned that the verb 畳む tatamu means “fold up, shut up, finish”. Oritatami really means approximately “thing which folds up to be put away”, and as a type of umbrella, means the kind that folds up really small.

    (The general word for umbrella, for the curious, is 傘 kasa. Oritatami is also used to describe other things, so I’ve also seen oritatami kasa to specifically mean a folding umbrella.)

  11. Yenlit says:

    I imagine also the expensive silken fabric ‘taffeta’ is related to ‘tapis’ etc. ultimately from this Iranian source ‘taftan’?
    In Welsh we have:
    carp – noun ‘a rag’ or ‘clout’
    carpiog – adj. ‘ragged’, ‘tattered’
    carpio/carpu – verb ‘to tear to shreds’
    Carpet is ‘carped’ and a ‘clout’ by the way is an old British dialect term for a rag or cloth.

  12. Cefin gwlad says:

    In Spanish a “carpeta” is a folder (for papers). The dictionary of the Real Academia gives “Del fr. ‘carpette’, tapete, y este del ingl. ‘carpet'” as the origin — but I can’t quite see how a floor-covering turned into a document-carrier!

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