Muchedumbre

In one of the Spanish lessons I did on Duolingo this morning, I came across the interesting word muchedumbre, and thought I’d write a post about it.

Muchedumbre cantando en contra de los Mossos

Muchedumbre [muʧˈdumbɾe] means crowd, throng, multitude, mob, herd, or flock (of birds). It comes from Old Spanish muchedumne, muchidumne, from Latin multitūdinem (a great number [of people], multitude, numerousness, crowd, mob, throng), from multus (much, many), from Proto-Italic *moltos (much, many), from Proto-Indo-European *ml̥tós (crumbled, crumpled), from *mel- (to worry, be late, hesitate) [source].

Words from the same roots possibly include mejor (better, best), muy (very), mucho (much, a lot of, many) and multitud (multitude, crowd, a lot, loads) in Spanish, multitude in English, and mieux (better, best) in French [source].

Incidentally, if you’re keen on crowds, you might like to darse un baño de multitudes (to mingle with the crowd) [source], or darse un baño de masas (to go on a walkabout) [source]. Un baño de masas can also mean ‘to walk into the crowd (by a famous person)’ [source]. This might attract una muchedumbre de admiradores (a crowd of admirers).

I tend to avoid crowds, which isn’t difficult living in a small city in the wilds of north Wales. How about you?

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Jentacularity

In this post, we’re discussing things jentacular and prandial.

Jentacular / Prandial

You may have heard of the words preprandial (occurring before a meal, especially dinner) and/or postprandial (after a meal, especially after dinner), how about prandial or jentacular?

Prandial means “Of or pertaining to a meal, especially dinner.” It comes from Late Latin prandialis, or from Latin prandium (late breakfast; lunch, any meal, fodder), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *pr̥h₂mós (first) and *h₁ed- (to eat) [source].

Words from the same roots include pranzo (lunch or dinner) in Italian, pranzu (dinner, lunch) in Maltese, and prânz (lunch, noon, midday) in Romanian [source].

Jentacular is an archaic word that means “Of or pertaining to breakfast; specifically, one taken early in the morning or immediately upon getting up.” It comes from Latin iēntāculum (breakfast), from ientō (I breakfast), a form of ieientō (to eat breakfast), from Proto-Italic *jagjentō, from PIE *h₁yaǵ- (to sacrifice, worship) [source].

Words from the same roots include diner, dinner and jejune (lacking matter, naive, simplistic) in English, jantar (dinner, to dine) in Portuguese, xantar (dinner, lunch) in Galician, déjeuner (to [eat/have] lunch, to have breakfast) in French [source].

Apparently in ancient Rome, the first meal of the day, which was eaten at about sunrise, was called iēntāculum. It usually consisted of bread, fruit or leftovers from the night before. At around noon, people would have a light meal called prandium, and at about sunset they had their main meal or cēna (dinner, supper). They may have had another light meal later in the evening as well. Originally, the main meal was eaten at midday, but later moved to later in the day [source].

Are there interesting meal-related words in other languages?

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Super Brows

Someone who is supercilious is arrogantly superior, haughty or shows contemptuous indifference.

Finaly Raised Eyebrow.jpg

Supercilious comes from the Latin superciliōsus (haughty, supercilious) from supercilium (eyebrow, will, pride, haughtiness, arrogance, sterness, superciliousness) from super- (above, over) and‎ cilium ( eyelid), from Proto-Italic *keljom, from PIE *ḱel-yo-m, from *ḱel- (to cover) [source].

Equivalents of supercilious in other languages include:

  • hooghartig (“high-hearted”) = haughty, supercilious in Dutch
  • hochnäsig (“high-nosed”) = snooty, stuck-up, haughty, supercilious, arrogant in German
  • kione-ard (“high-head”) = arrogant, chieftain, haughty, presumptuous, supercilious in Manx
  • ffroenuchel (“high-nostril”) = haughty, disdainful, supercilious in Welsh

The word cilium also exists in English, and means:

  • A short microscopic hairlike organelle projecting from a eukaryotic cell, which serve either for propulsion by causing currents in the surrounding fluid or as sensors.
  • One of the fine hairs along an insect’s wing.
  • Hairs or similar protrusions along the margin of an organ.
  • An eyelash (plural cilia) [source].

Related words in other languages include: cil (eyelash), and sourcil (eyebrow) in French, ceja (eyebrow, rim, edge) in Spanish, and ciglio (eyelash, eyebrow, border, edge, side) in Italian [source].

Other (eye)brow-related words include:

  • highbrow = intellectually stimulating, highly cultured, sophisticated; a cultured or learned person or thing
  • middlebrow = neither highbrow or lowbrow, but somewhere in between; a person or thing that is neither highbrow nor lowbrow, but in between
  • lowbrow = unsophisticated, not intended for an audience of intelligence, education or culture; someone or something of low education or culture.

Highbrow first appeared in print in 1875, and originally referred to the ‘science’ of phrenology, which suggested that a person of intelligence and sophistication would possess a higher brow-line than someone of lesser intelligence and sophistication [source]. Lowbrow was also conntected to phrenology and first appeared in about 1902 [source]. Middlebrow first appeared in Punch magazine in 1925 and is based highbrow and lowbrow [source].

If something is completely devoid of cultural or educational value, it could be said to be no-brow / nobrow, a word popularized by John Seabrook in his book Nobrow: the culture of marketing, the marketing of culture (2000) [source].

Incidentally, raising or furrowing your eyebrows is used to show you are asking a question in British Sign Language (BSL). Do other sign languages do this?

Do you know of any other interesting brow-related expressions?

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Buckling Swashes

Have you a swashed any buckles or buckled any swashes recently? Do you known the differences between a pirate, a privateer and a buccaneer? What about a freebooter or a corsair?

Pirate Ship, Key West, Florida.

A swashbuckler is a swordsman or fencer who engages in showy or extravagant swordplay, a daring adventurer or a kind of period adventure story with flashy action and a lighthearted tone [source].

A swashbuckler likes to swashbuckle, that is, take part in exciting romantic adventures [source].

Swash as a noun has a variety of meanings, including:

  • The water that washes up on shore after an incoming wave has broken.
  • A narrow sound or channel of water lying within a sand bank, or between a sand bank and the shore, or a bar over which the sea washes.
  • A wet splashing sound.
  • A smooth stroke; a swish.
  • A swishing noise.
  • A long, protruding ornamental line or pen stroke found in some typefaces and styles of calligraphy.
  • A streak or patch.

As a verb, to swash means:

  • To swagger; to act with boldness or bluster (toward).
  • To dash or flow noisily; to splash.
  • To swirl through liquid; to swish.
  • To wade forcefully through liquid.
  • To swipe.
  • To fall violently or noisily.
  • To streak, to color in a swash. [source].

Swash also appears in swash letter (an italic capital letter with top and bottom flourishes, intended to fill an unsightly gap.) [source]; and swish-swash (a repeated swishing action or sound, going back and forth) [source].

Sword & Buckler

A buckler is “a kind of shield, of various shapes and sizes, held in the hand or worn on the arm (usually the left), for protecting the front of the body. In the Middle Ages in England, the buckler was a small shield, used not to cover the body but to stop or parry blows.” [source].

A pirate is “a criminal who plunders at sea; commonly attacking merchant vessels, though often pillaging port towns.” It comes from Old French pirate (pirate), from Latin pīrāta (pirate), from Ancient Greek πειρατής (peiratḗs – brigand, robber), from πεῖρα (peîra – trial, attempt, plot). It replaced the Old English word wīċing, which could refer to a pirate or a viking [source], although vikings were more commonly called Norþmenn (north people), hǣþene (pagans) or Dene (Danes) [source].

A privateer was historically a privately owned warship that acted under a letter of marque to attack enemy merchant ships and take possession of their cargo. An officer or any other member of the crew of such a ship, or in other words, a government-sanctioned pirate [source].

Buccaneer is another word for pirate, and specifically refers to pirates who preyed on the ships of other nations on the Spanish Main and in the Pacific in the 17th century. It comes from French boucanier (buccaneer), from boucaner (to smoke or broil meat and fish, to hunt wild beasts for their skins), from boucan ([Tupi-style] grill), from Old Tupi m(b)oka’ẽ (wooden grill) [source].

A freebooter refers to an adventurer who pillages, plunders or wages ad-hoc war on other nations. It comes from Dutch vrijbuiter (freebooter, pirate), from vrijbuit (plunder, spoils) [source]. The old word flibustier (a French pirate in the Americas) comes from the same roots [source], as does filibuster [source].

Incidentally, the Dutch word buit (spoil, booty, loot, prey, gains), and the English word booty, might ultimately come from the Proto-Celtic word *boudi (victory, booty, spoils), as does the name Boudica [source].

Saint-Malo corsair ship

A corsair refers specifically to French privateers, especially from the port of Saint-Malo, and the ships they sail. It can also refer to privateers and pirates in general.

It comes from French corsaire (privateer, corsair, pirate), from Italian corsaro (privateer, corsair, pirate), from Medieval Latin cursārius (pirate, sea-raider), from Latin cursus (course, running, race, way, passage, journey, voyage) [source].

Are there any other words for pirate that I’ve missed?

For more seafaring-related words, see this podcast, which inspired this post:

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Madrugadores (Early Risers)

Are you a madrugador?

Madrugador...

I used to be, but now I’m more of a dormilón and a trasnochador.

Madrugador [ma.ð̞ɾu.ɣ̞aˈð̞oɾ] is a Spanish (and Portuguese) word that means an early riser, early bird or morning person, and as an adjective it means rising or waking early. [source].

Madrugador comes from madrugar (to get up early), from Vulgar Latin *mātūricāre (to wake up early), from Latin matūro (to ripen, mature, hasten, rush), from mātūrus (mature, ripe, early, soon), from Proto-Italic *mātus (ripeness) from the PIE *meh₂- (to ripen, to mature) [source].

Sometimes you can pack a lot of meaning into one word in Spanish, for example, madrugaba (I/he/she/it used to get up early) and madrugadores madrugaban (early risers used to rise early).

Related words include madrugada (dawn, early hours of the morning, before dawn) and madrugón (early riser, early bird, early start).

Words with similar meanings include tempranero (early, early-rising, early riser) [source] and mañanero (early rising, morning, early riser) [source].

How would you say early riser in other languages?

By the way, there’s a novel by Jasper Fforde called Early Riser that I would recommend.

If you’re a late riser, like me, then you’re a dormilón, which should not be confused with dormilona (reclining chair, nightgown), and if you stay up late, you could be described as a trasnochador (night owl, night bird) or a noctámbulo (active at night, sleepwalker, night owl) [source].

Are there interesting equivalents of late riser or night owl in other languages?

The English words mature and maturate (to ripen, bring to ripeness or maturity) come from the same Latin roots [source].

Apparently a quien madruga, Dios le ayuda (“God helps those who rise early”) or in other words the early bird gets the worm [source].

How would you say that in other languages?

Alternatively, you could say no por mucho madrugar, amanece más temprano (“getting up earlier won’t make the sun rise sooner”) or in other words things will happen at their own time, you can’t rush art [source].

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Whimperatives

When you ask someone to do something for you, but in an indirect kind of way, or in other words, you phrase an order or imperative obliquely as a question, this is apparently called a whimperative. For example, you might say “Would you mind closing the window?”, rather than the more direct “Please, close the window” or “Close the window!”. Or you might say “Why don’t you be quiet?” instead of “Be quiet” [source].

Do Not Discard It In The Void

This word was coined by Jerrold Sadock, a professor of Linguistics at the University of Chicago, in an essay he wrote in 1970. It’s a blend of whimper and imperative. Another term for a whimperative is interrogative directive [source].

A whimper is a low intermittent sob, and to whimper means to cry or sob softly and intermittently, to cry with a low, whining, broken voice, to whine, to complain, or to say something in a whimpering manner [source].

It is probably of imitative origin, or may by related to wimmern (to whimper, moan) in German. The words wimp and wimpy possibly come from whimper, and were likely influenced by the charcter J. Wellington Wimpy in the Popeye comics [source].

Always Tuesday - Bijou Planks 81/365

The word imperative (essential, crucial, expressing a command) comes from the Latin word imperātīvus (of or proceeding from a command, commanded), from imperō (to comand, give orders to, demand, rule, govern), from in- (in) and parō (to arrange, order, resolve) [source].

Words from the same roots include pare (to cut away the outer layer from something, especially a fruit or a vegetable) in English, parer (to adorn, bedeck, fend off) in French, parer (to stop, halt, put up, lift, stand up) in Spanish and paratoi (to prepare) in Welsh [source].

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Mud Glorious Mud

If you live in a muddy place, or want to describe such a place, you could use the old word lutarious.

cute and muddy

It means “of, pertaining to, or like, mud; living in mud”, and comes from the Latin word lutarius (of or belonging to the mud, living in mud), from lutum (mud, soil, dirt, mire, loam, clay), from Proto-Indo-European *lew- (dirt, mud) [source].

A related word is lutulent [ˈlʌtjʊlənt], which means pertaining to mud, or muddy.

Words for the same roots include:

  • Albanian: llucë = thin or shallow mud, muddy place
  • Portuguese: lodoso = muddy
  • Romanian: lut = clay, loam, mud, dirt, lutos = clayey
  • Spanish: lodo = mud, muck, mire, lodoso = muddy, boddy

Lutetia, the Gallo-Roman town founded in 52 BC that became Paris, gets it’s name from the Gaulish word *lutos (swamp), from Proto-Celtic *lutā (dirt, mud), from PIE *lew- (dirt, mud). It was known as Lutetia Parisiorum by the Romans. The Parisiorum part comes from Parīsiī, the Latin name for the Gaulish tribe who lived in the area. The name Paris comes from the same roots.

You can find more details on Radio Omniglot.

Incidentally, the French word boue [bu] (mud, dirt), also has Celtic roots: it comes from the Gaulish *bawā (mud, dirt), from Proto-Celtic *bowā (dirt, filth, excrement), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷewh₁- (excrement, dung) [source].

The Galician word bosta (dung, manure) comes from the same Celtic roots, as do the Welsh words baw (mud) and budr (dirty, filthy, vile, foul) [source].

Gwineas buoy

The French word boue shouldn’t be confused with the Breton word boue [ˈbuː.e], which means buoy. It comes from Middle English boi(e) (buoy), from Middle Dutch boeye, from Old Dutch *bōcan, from Frankish *baukn (symbol, sign) from Proto-Germanic *baukną (sign, symbol), from PIE *bʰeh₂- (to glow, light, shine) [source].

By the way, do you pronounce buoy [bɔɪ] (boy) or [ˈbu.i] (boo-ee), or some other way?

Lady Gunilda

When is a gun not a gun?

Ballista

The word gun nowadays refers to “A device for projecting a hard object very forcefully; a firearm or cannon, etc”. However, originally it wasn’t just used for firearms. The word possibly comes from the name of a ballista, a type of giant crossbow (see above), that was used at Windsor Castle in England in the 14th century – Domina Gunilda (Lady Gunilda).

An inventory of the munitions of Windsor Castle conducted in 1330-31 included the entry:

Una magna balista de cornu quæ vocatur Domina Gunilda.
(A great ballista of horn which is called Lady Gunilda.)

Not long after that, the word gonne starts to appear. It was also written gon, gonn, goone or gun, and referred to:

  1. A trebuchet or similar kind of pellet-firing siege engine.
  2. A cannon or other large firearm; a piece of artillery.
  3. A portable handheld firearm; a gun (i.e. a hand cannon).
  4. A projectile (rare).

Later, it began to be used specifically for firearms.

The name Gunilda comes from the Old Norse name Gunnhildr, from gunnr (war) and‎ hildr (battle). It’s a female name that’s poetically translated as “battle maid”. Other versions include Gunhilda, Gun(n)hild, Gunill(a), Gunnel, Hildur, Hilda and Hildegard.

Here’s a little song from Hildegard von Blingin’, because why not?

Other names from the same roots include Brunhild(a), Imelda and Matilda.

Sources: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gun#English
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gunne#Middle_English
https://www.wordorigins.org/big-list-entries/gun
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/hildiz

Lost in the Geese

The French word oie means goose, but how do you pronounce it?

Geese

Last night at the French Conversation Group, we were talking about geese, as you do, and while I could remember how to write the word for goose in French, I wasn’t sure how to pronounce it. Then one of my friends suggested it was foie as in foie gras [fwa ɡʁa]. I knew this means “fat liver”, so foie must mean liver, and that oie probably sounds similar to foie.

My guess was right, oie is pronounced [wa] and rhymes with foie [fwa]. It comes from the Old French oie (goose), from Vulgar Latin auca (goose), a contraction of *avica, from Latin avis (bird), from Proto-Italic *awis (bird), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éwis (bird). The Old French word was originally written oe or oue. The i was added by the end of the 12th century as analogy to oisel/oiseau (bird) [source].

Words from the same roots include հավ [hɑv] (hen, chicken) in Armenian, ave (bird) in Galician, Spanish and Portuguese, vista (chicken, hen) in Latvian, hwyad (duck) in Welsh, οἰωνός [i.oˈnos] (large bird, bird of prey, omen) in Greek [source].

The French word oiseau (bird) also comes from the same roots, via the Late Latin aucellus (little bird), as do uccello (bird) in Italian, and ocell (bird) in Catalan [source].

Incidentally, goose comes from Middle English go(o)s (goose, fool, idiot), from Old English gōs (goose), from Proto-West Germanic *gans (goose), from Proto-Germanic *gans (goose), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰh₂éns (goose), which is likely of imitative origin [source].

A French equivalent of to loose one’s marble (become crazy, loose one’s mind) is se perdre les oies (“to get lost in the geese”) [source].

Are there any interesting goose-related expressions in other languages?

Laxness

During the days between Christmas and New Year things may seem a bit more lax than usual, so I thought I’d look into the origins of the word.

lazy

Lax means lenient and allowing for deviation, not strict, loose, not tight or taut, lacking care, neglectful or negligent. It comes from the Latin laxus (wide, roomy, loose), from Proto-Indo-European *slǵ-so (weak, faint) [source].

The English word leash comes from the same roots, via the Middle English lesse (a leash for holding a coursing hound or watchdog) [source], the Old French lesse (leash, lead), and the Latin laxā (thong, a loose cord), from laxus [source].

The English word lease also comes from the same roots, at least partly: from Middle English *lesen, the Anglo-Norman lesser/lasier (to let, let go), from Latin laxō (to loose) from laxus, and partly from Old High German lāzan (to let, let go, release) [source].

Related words in other languages include laks (lax, slack) in Dutch, lâche (loose, slack, coward(ly), low, lazy) in French, lax (lax, easy, loose) in Geman, and llaes (loose, slack, free, trailing, flowing, low) in Welsh [source].