Beards and chins

Illustration of a beard

One of the Romanian lessons I did today was about parts of the body. One word that came up was bărbie [bərˈbi.e], which I guessed meant beard, but actually means chin. I suppose beards usually grow on chins, so this isn’t too surprising.

Bărbie comes from the Vulgar Latin *barbilia, from the Latin barba (beard; wool; down on a plant). Or from the Romanian barbă (beard) +‎ -ie (a noun suffix) [source].

In Spanish chin is barbilla [barˈβiʎa] – barba (beard) with a diminutive suffix, so it could be translated as “little beard” [source].

The English word beard comes from the Middle English berd, bard, bærd, from the Old English beard, from Proto-Germanic *bardaz, from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰardʰeh₂, all of which mean beard. The PIE word *bʰardʰeh₂ is also the root of words for beard in Germanic, Slavic, Romance and Iranian languages [source], and in Welsh (barf) Cornish (barv) and Breton (barv) [source].

In the Gaelic / Goidelic languages however, the words for beard are different: féasóg in Irish, feusag in Scottish Gaelic, and faasaag in Manx. The come from the Old Irish fésóc, from fés (lip; body hair) [source].

Are words for beards and chins similar in other languages?

2 thoughts on “Beards and chins

  1. Latvian barda.

    English has barber, an early French loan, and also barb (‘a sharp-pointed appendage’ – barbed wire and, metaphorically, barbed comment), having the same origin.

  2. In French : barbe (beard) / menton (chin).
    In Italian : barba (beard) / mento (chin).
    In both languages, the words have nothing in common.
    Neither have they in Germanic.
    German : Bart (beard) / Kinn (chin)
    Norwegian : skjegg (beard) / hake (chin)
    In Slavic, the two words are related, or eventually identical.
    Russian : борода (borodá – beard) / подбородок (podboródok – lit. underbeard – chin)
    Ukrainian : борода (borodá) / підборіддя (pidboríddya) – same as Russian
    Belorussian : барада (baradá) / падбародак (padbaródak) – same as Russian
    Polish : broda (can mean both) / podbródek (same as Russian – chin)
    Czech : brada (chin) / vousy na bradě (lit. hair on the chin – beard)
    Croatian : brada (can mean both) / podbradak (chin)
    Slovene : brada / obradek – id.
    Bulgarian : брада (bradá – can mean both) / брадичка (bradíčka – diminutive – chin)
    In Hungarian, they are also related :
    áll (chin) / szakáll (beard).

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