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), weorðscipe (West Saxon), “condition of being worthy, honor, renown”, from weorð (worthy), and -scipe, “state, condition of being”. The sense of “reverence paid to a supernatural or divine being” is first recorded in about 1300. The original sense is preserved in the title worshipful (c.1300). The verb to worship first appears in writing from about 1200. The word weorð comes from the Proto Germanic *werthaz (toward, opposite), which is possibly a derivative of Proto-Indo-European word *wert- (to turn, wind). from *wer- (to turn, bend).

The OED and the Collins Dictionary give the same etymology, and the OED lists the numerous ways worship was written in Middle English, including worðscipe, worðschipe, worðschepe, worþssipe, worþschip, wortscip, wortschyp, worsipe, worssipe, and so on.

The Dictionary of Word Origins says the worship originally meant “worthiness, distinction, credit, dignity” in Old English. Later is came to mean “respect or reverence”, and was used in religious contexts from the 13th century, and that is was used as a verb from the 12th century.

A related word is venerate, from the Latin venerāt- from venerārī/venerāre (to reverence, worship, adore), which comes from venus (beauty, love desire), from the Proto-Indo-European base *wen- (to strive after, wish, desire, be satisfied) [source]. This is also the root of the words for worship in Italian (venerare), Portuguese (venerar) and French (vénérer). The equivalent in Spanish is adorar or rendir culto a.

17 thoughts on “Word skipping to Venus

  1. To be fair to your questioner’s informant, -ship (meaning “state, condition of being”) and shape (meaning “create, form”) ARE related words.

  2. “Proto-Indo-European word *wert- (to turn, wind). from *wer- (to turn, bend).”

    Intersting, linked to the Welsh:

    gwaered – decent
    gwyro – bend/divert

    Gŵy – the river in Gwent, (Usk in English … though usk seems similar to the Gaelic word for water, ‘uisce’ to me)?

  3. Macsen:

    Afon Gwy is the Wye though, isn’t it? Afon Wysg is the Usk. And Wysg is indeed cognate with uisce.

  4. I assume that you know venerar also means “to worship” in Spanish, but I thought I’d point it out since you specifically mention Spanish as excluded from the venerat- root. While I have seen adorar in use, I’ve also seen venerar in use here in Texas.

  5. @Kevin & Macsen,
    This may be out-dated now but in Sir Ifor Williams’ Enwau Lleoedd he argues that ‘Wysg’ (River Usk) may not be cognate with Irish uisce rather Wysg may be a surviving relic of a lost Brythonic word, its own word for ‘fish’ which it later borrowed from Latin ‘piscis’ and therefore Wysg would be cognate with Goidelic ‘iasc’ (Old Irish íasc).
    English – fish
    Irish – iasc
    Manx – eeast
    Welsh – pysg
    Cornish – pysk
    Breton – pesk
    Latin – piscis
    He also says regarding ‘uisce’ why call a river ‘water’? Unless a genitive is understood as in ‘uisce beatha’ (water of life) ie. whiskey.

  6. Going slightly off topic, I was surprised to see how many names Breton has for the planet Venus. In English we have a few some of which sound a bit like the names of newspapers:
    Morning star
    Evening star
    Day star
    and in Welsh there’s:
    Seren y dydd (the day star)
    Seren y gweithiwr (the worker’s star)
    Seren y bore (the morning star)
    but Breton has:
    (Ar blanedenn) Gwener
    Sterenn an deiz (the day star)
    Sterenn ar mesaer (shepherd’s star)
    Sterenn ar noz (evening star)
    Sterenn ar c’hemener (tailor’s star)
    Sterenn an Heol (sun star)
    Sterenn al Labourer (worker’s star)
    Sterenn tarzh-an-deiz (dawn star)
    Gwerelaouen (not sure what this means?)

  7. He also says regarding ‘uisce’ why call a river ‘water’?

    Two steps (in the local dialect)?

    1. “Water” may well come to mean “river” or “lake” generically. E.g., Scand. å “river” is cognate with aqua, vatn “water; lake” is of transparent etymology; also Scottish ‘water’ “small river”.

    2. There’s a prominent river becoming the river locally.

    I wonder if this suggested “fish” -> uisg was the inspiration for Tolkien’s Brandywine.

  8. I don’t know anything about Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings so I had to google ‘Brandywine’ to discover that it’s a river (Baranduin) with ‘duin’ being the word for river. It said the origin for duin is Welsh dwyn – ‘to carry’ or bring (to) ie.
    dwyn ar gof – to bring to mind.
    dwyn adref – to bring home.

  9. Yenlit: re your “Gwerelaouen (not sure what this means?)”

    Just some amateur etymology here, but Breton laouen (joyful) is cognate with Welsh llawen (cf. Welsh Nadolig Llawen – Merry Christmas – with Breton Nadolek Laouen).

    Could the gwere- part perhaps be cognate with Welsh gwawr (dawn) — even though the standard word for “dawn” in modern Breton is quite different — giving a compound meaning something like “happy dawn?”

  10. @Kevin

    Sounds plausible that ‘gwere’ could be Welsh ‘gwawr’ dawn, day break, y wawr – aurora but I don’t know for sure.
    I can only understand Breton by comparing it to Welsh so initially I dismissed Breton gwere- being possibly connected to (Welsh) words such as just by their meanings:
    gwar – nape of the neck
    gwêr – suet, tallow etc.
    gŵer – shade
    gwyll – dusk, gloom.

    But I know that Breton GW is related to Welsh CH so I thought maybe gwere could be Welsh chwaer – sister, maiden and recognising ‘laouen’ to be llawen – merry, joyful, cheerful etc. you could guess that gwerelaouen might mean ‘merry maiden’?

  11. ‘Lloer’ os also another word for the moon in Welsh; ‘lloeren’ being Welsh for satellite. Same root as ‘lunar’ I presume.

    Would ‘laouen’ in the second half of ‘Gwerelaouen’ be a version of ‘lloer’ or the Breton word?

    … just a suggestion!

  12. @Yenlit72

    Gouere means ‘July’, and Laouen means ‘happy’. But I’m not sure what Gouerelaouen means…

  13. Just to add a little more mystery (confusion?) I’ve since found out that Breton gwerelaouen — as well as being one of the names of the morning star — means belvedere (literally “fair sight”): “a small building, or a part of a building, more or less open, constructed in a place commanding a fine prospect” (OPTED).

    Still to find an authoritative etymology for the Breton word, however, and discover which metaphorical usage came first.

  14. @Macsen
    It’s a good suggestion but I think ‘laouen’ is correct in this instance where the Breton for moon would be ‘loar’ or in its singulative form with the suffix -enn ‘loarenn’ – a moon, satellite.

    I don’t know what ‘gouerelaouen’ is meant to mean and there doesn’t seem to be much on the internet about it?

    I too saw a reference in a French dictionary that ‘gwere’ means observatory (French observatorie) but without any mention of a belvédère? Breton for observatory is arsellva (Welsh arsyllfa) and the dictionary also listed that an ‘oculaire’ (ocular lens, eyepiece) is ‘gwerenn-lagad’ – a glass eye (Welsh llygad) so maybe ‘gwere’ is something to do with ‘glass’ (Breton gwer ‘glass’, French ‘verre’)?

  15. Found this in the MacBain’s Dictionary of Gaelic:

    FÀIR – dawn, Early Irish fàir.
    Welsh – gwawr
    Breton – GOUERE, ‘morning’
    morning-star GWERELEUEN
    Latin – ver, ‘spring’

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