Adventures in Etymology – Bizarre

Today we’re looking into the strange and unusual origins of the word bizarre.

Bizarre!

Bizarre [bɪˈzɑː/bəˈzɑɹ] means:

  • markedly unusual in appearance, style, or general character and often involving incongruous or unexpected elements
  • outrageously or whimsically strange
  • odd

It comes from the French bizarre [bi.zaʁ] (odd, peculiar, bizarre), either from the Basque bizar [bis̻ar] (beard), or from the Italian bizzarro [bidˈd͡zar.ro] (odd, queer, eccentric, bizarre, weird, frisky), possibly from bizza (tantrum), from the German beißen [ˈbaɪ̯sən] (to bite) [source].

In French backslang (Verlan), bizarre becomes zarbi [source] and features in the expression On est tous un peu zarbi(tes) (We’re all a little freaky), or as they as in northern England, There’s nowt so queer as folk [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about words, etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Adventures in Etymology – Telling Tales

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re telling tales about the origins of the word tale.

Telling Tales

A tale [teɪl] is:

  • a narrative that relates the details of some real or imaginary event, incident, or case; story
  • a literary composition having the form of such a narrative
  • a falsehood; lie
  • a rumor or piece of gossip, often malicious or untrue

It used to mean:

  • number, tally, quota
  • account, estimation, regard, heed
  • speech, language
  • a speech, a statement, talk, conversation, discourse
  • a count, declaration

It comes from the Middle English tale [ˈtaːl(ə)] (personal narrative, account), from the Old English talu [ˈtɑ.lu] (account, reckoning, tale, narration) from the Proto-West Germanic *talu (narration, report, assessment, judgement, calculation, counting), from the Proto-Germanic *talō (narration, report), from the PIE *dol-éh₂ (reckoning, calculation, fraud), from *del- (to reckon, calculate) [source].

Some words from the same Proto-Germanic root include tell in English, taal [taːl] (language) in Dutch and Afrikaans, Zahl [tsaːl] (number, numeral, figure) in German, tala [ˈtʰaːla] (a speech, button, number) in Icelandic, tala [ˈtɑːˌla] (to speak, tell, talk) in Swedish, and tale [ˈtˢæːlə] (speech, talk, discourse; to speak, talk) in Danish [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

Here’s a silly little ditty I wrote in 2019 called Tall Tales:

I also write about words, etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Adventures in Etymology – Gates & Streets

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re find out when a gate is not a gate.

A gate [ɡeɪt] is:

  • A doorlike structure outside a house.
  • A doorway, opening, or passage in a fence or wall.
  • A movable barrier.

It comes from the Middle English gat(e)/ȝat(e) [ɡa(ː)t/ja(ː)t] (gate), from the Old English ġe(a)t/gat [jæ͜ɑt] (gate) from the Proto-West Germanic *gat (hole, opening) from the Proto-Germaic *gatą [ˈɣɑ.tɑ̃] (hole, opening, passage), from *getaną [ˈɣe.tɑ.nɑ̃] (to attain, acquire, get, receive, hold) [source].

In parts of northern England the word gate means a way, path or street, and in Scots it means way, road, path or street. It appears mainly in street names such as Briggate (“bridge street”) and Kirkgate (“church street”). It comes from the Old Norse gata (street, road), from the Proto-Germanic *gatwǭ [ˈɣɑt.wɔ̃ː] (street, passage), which comes from the same Proto-Germanic root as the other kind of gate.

Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate

Words from the same Old Norse root include gata [ˈɡɑːˌta] (street, frontage, strip) in Swedish, gate (street) in Norwegian and gade [ˈɡ̊æːðə] (street, road) in Danish, Gasse [ˈɡasə] (alley) in German, and gas [χɑs/ɣɑs] (unpaved street) in Dutch [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about words, etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Adventures in Etymology – Silly

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re getting a bit absurd and ridiculous and looking at the origins of the word silly.

A word cloud based on the contents of this post
Generated with WordItOUt

Silly [ˈsɪli] means:

  • laughable or amusing through foolishness or a foolish appearance
  • weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish
  • absurd; ridiculous; irrational
  • stunned; dazed

It comes from the Middle English se(e)ly [seːliː] (spiritually favoured, blessed, holy, virtuous, righteous; worthy, noble, fine, excellent; fortunate, lucky, prosperous; happy pleasant; wealthy; innocent, harmless, good; simple, guileless, foolish, gullible; weak, helpless; wretched; humble; worthless) [source].

From the Old English sǣliġ [ˈsæː.lij] (blessed, fortunate, prosperous, happy), from the Proto-West Germanic *sālīg (blissful, prosperous, happy) from *sāli (happiness, prosperity; proper, appropriate time), from the Proto-Germaic *sēliz (happy, fortunate; kind, good) [source]

Words from the same Proto-West Germanic root (*sālīg) include: salig [ˈsæːli] (blessed) in Danish, salig [ˈsɑːli(ɡ)] (blessed, delighted, poor) in Swedish, and selig [ˈzeːlɪç] (overjoyed, tranquil, blessed) in German [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

Here’s a silly little ditty I wrote in 2019 about being silly and odd: It’s Okay To Be Odd / Mae’n Iawn Bod yn Od

I also write about words, etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Omniglot News (17/10/21)

There are three new language pages on Omniglot this week:

  • Tukang Besi, a Celebic language spoken mainly in the Tukangbesi Islands in Wakatobi district of Southeast Sulawesi Province in central Indonesia.
  • Chittagonian (চিটাইঙ্গা), an Eastern Bengali-Assamese language spoken in the Chittagong Division in southeast Bangladesh.
  • Wolio, a Celebic language spoken in the province of Southeast Sulawesi in Indonesia.

There’s a new adapated script: Malay-Indonesian Cyrillic (Алфабэт Кирил Мэлайу-Индонэсиа), a way to write Malay and Indonesian with the Cyrillic alphabet devised by Naufal Rizky Rahardian.

There are new phrases and numbers in Kven (kvääni), a Finnic language spoken in northern Norway.

The mystery language in last week’s language quiz was Kven, and I’ve just posted a new Language Quiz.

There’s a new post on the Omniglot blog called Fighting Combs, about the Scots word fecht (to fight), and related words in Dutch, English, German, Swedish and Russian.

There are two new Celtiadur posts this week: one about Ale and Beer and one about Lakes and Ponds.

In this week’s Adventure in Etymology we find connections between Words and Verbs.

I made improvements to Maithili phrases page, which now has translations of all the phrases thanks to Binu V Nair of Languages Home.

In other news, I went to a folk music session on Tuesday night and spoke, and sang in, Welsh most of the time. We also spoke some Irish, German, Dutch, Finnish and English – just a typical night in Bangor.

For more Omniglot News see:
https://www.omniglot.com/news/
https://twitter.com/Omniglossia
https://www.facebook.com/groups/omniglot/
https://www.facebook.com/Omniglot-100430558332117

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Adventures in Etymology 29 – Rain

As quite a bit of wet stuff has been falling out of the sky this week, and it’s raining as I write this, I thought I’d look into the the origins of the word rain [ɹeɪn].

A photo of rain taken from my house

Definition:

  • condensed water falling from a cloud
  • any matter moving or falling, usually through air

[source]

It comes from the Middle English reyn/rein [rɛi̯n/reːn] (rain), from the Old English reġn [rejn] (rain), from the Proto-West Germanic *regn [rejn] (rain), from the Proto-Germanic *regną (rain), possibly from the PIE *Hreǵ- (to flow) [source], or from *reg- (to water, moisture, wetness) [source]

Words for rain in other Germanic languages come from the same Proto-Germanic root, including regen [ˈreɣə(n)] in Dutch, Regen [ˈʁeː.ɡŋ̍] in German, and regn in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Faroese and Icelandic, with different pronunciations in each language [source].

The English word irrigate comes from the same PIE root, via the Latin irrigare (to irrigate), from irrigō (I water, irrigate, flood), from in- (after) and rigō (I wet, moisten, water) [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Here’s a song I wrote about rain:

A slightly different version can be heard at:

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 47 – Emoji (🖼️✍️)

Today we are looking at the origins and use of emoji, those little symbols that appear
in text messages, emails and other electronic communications.

An emoji is a pictogram, logogram, ideogram or smiley used in electronic messages and web pages. Emoji are used to fill in emotional cues otherwise missing from typed conversations. They include facial expressions, common objects, places and types of weather and animals [source].

The word emoji comes from the Japanese word 絵文字 (emoji), which is also written えもじ or エモジ, and means emoji, pictorial symbol, pictograph or pictogram, or literally “picture writing” [source].

Emoji first appeared in 1997 on a Japanese mobile phone made by J-Phone called the SkyWalker DP-211SW, which included 90 black and white emoji. It didn’t sell well and the emoji were rarely used.

A set of 176 colour emoji were created in 1999 by Shigetaka Kurita (栗田穣崇), who was inspired by manga (漫画) comics, which use symbols known as manpu (漫符) to represent emotions, actions, etc. They appeared on the i-mode pager developed by NTT DoCoMo. The emoji became popular in Japan and other companies starting add similar symbols to their mobile systems.

Between 2007 and 2010, the Unicode Consortium and other standarization bodies in the USA, Europe and Japan discussed and eventually agreed on a set of 722 emoji. These were included in the version 6.0 of Unicode, which was released in 2010. More emoji have been added since then, and they have become popular worldwide.

In 2014 the founder of Emojipedia, Jeremy Bruge, declared 17th July as World Emoji Day [source].

In 2015 the face with tears of joy emoji 😂was named Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionaries [source].

There have been several musicals based on emoji in Los Angeles and New York, and The Emoji Movie was released in 2017 [source]..

According to a 2017 study at the University of Michigan that analysed emoji use in over 1.2 billion messages, the most widely used emoji are the face with tears of joy (😂), the red heart (❤️) and the smiling face with heart eyes (😍). People in Australia, France and Czechia are more likely to use happy emoji, while these in Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Argentina prefer more negative emoji.

The emojitracker site shows realtime emoji use on Twitter. As I’m writing this, the face with tears of joy (😂) appears in the top spot, followed by the red heart (❤️), the loudly crying face (😭), the smiling face with heart eyes (😍), and the recycling symbol (♻️).

The appearance of emoji vary between different operating systems, and the way they’re interpreted can vary from person to person. Some have developed particular meanings in specific contexts or places. Some are culturally specific, such as the white flower emoji (💮), which is used by teachers in Japan when their students have done well. It is also used to indicate love, happiness and beauty on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day. If you include emoji in a message, the person or people receiving it might not get the same meaning from them as you intended.

The novel Moby Dick has been ‘translated’ into emoji to become Emoji Dick or 🐳 (spouting whale), and a few other stories have been written in emoji. Whether readers understand them or not is another matter. Judging by the comments on one of them, most don’t. [source].

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Adventures in Etymology 28 – Neighbour

As I got to know some of my neighbours better this week I thought I’d look into the the origins of the word neighbour [ˈneɪbə] / neighbor [ˈneɪbɚ].

Hector, my neighbour's dog

Definition:

  • a person who lives near or next to another
  • a person or thing near or next to another
  • to be or live close (to a person or thing)

[source]

It comes from the Middle English neighebor [ˈnɛixəbur] (neighbour, citizen), from the Old English nēahġebūr [ˈnæ͜ɑːx.jeˌbuːr] (neighbour), from the Proto-Germanic *nēhwagabūrô [ˈnɛː.xʷɑ.ɣɑ.ˌbuː.rɔːː] (neighbour), from *nēhwaz [ˈnɛː.xʷɑz] (near, close) and *gabūrô (dweller) from *būraz (room, chamber, dwelling, residence) [source].

Other words derived for the Proto-Germanic *nēhwaz include near, next and nigh (near, close by), as in ‘the end is nigh’ in English, nah [naː] (near, close, nearby) in German, and na (close) in Dutch [source].

Other words derived for the Proto-Germanic *būraz include bower in English, buur(man/vrouw) [byr] (neighbour) in Dutch, boer [buːr] (farmer, peasant) in Dutch and Afrikaans, Bauer (birdcage) in some German dialects, and bur [bʉːr] (cage) in Swedish [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

German, Dutch and Swedish words pronounced by https://speakabo.com/text-to-speech/

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Adventures in Etymology 26 – Iron

Today we’re getting elemental and delving into the origins of the word iron [ˈaɪ.ən/ˈaɪ.ɚn].

iron fence

Definition:

  • an element which usually takes the form of a hard, dark-grey metal that can be used to make steel.
  • an electrical device with a flat metal base that heats up and is used to remove creases from clothes.

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word iren [ˈiːrən] (iron), from the Old English īsern [ˈiː.sern] (iron), from the Proto-West-Germanic *īsarn (iron) from the Proto-Germanic **īsarną [ˈiː.sɑr.nɑ̃] (iron), from the Proto-Celtic *īsarnom (iron), probably from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁ēsh₂r̥no- (bloody, red), from *h₁ésh₂r̥ (flowing blood) [source].

Words for iron in Germanic and Celtic languages come from the same Proto-Celtic root, including ijzer [ˈɛi̯zər] in Dutch, Eisen [ˈʔaɪ̯zn̩] in German, haearn [ˈhai.arn] in Welsh and iarann [ˈiəɾˠən̪ˠ] in Irish [source].

Incidentally, the word irony is not related to iron at all. Instead it comes from the Middle French ironie (irony), from the Latin īrōnīa (irony), from the Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία [eː.rɔː.něː.a] (irony, pretext), from εἴρων (one who feigns ignorance) [source].

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog and a recent post was about Iron Ferrets.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 46 – Surnames

The word surname, as in a family name, comes from the Late Latin supernōmen/suprānōmen (surname), from super- (over, above, beyond) and nōmen (name) [source].

The most common surnames in England are: Smith, Jones, Taylor, Brown, Williams, Wilson, Johnson, Davies, Robinson and Wright [source].

Types of surname:

  • Occupational; Smith, Taylor, Wright
  • Patronimics; Jones, Williams, Wilson, Johnson, Davies, Robinson
  • Based on appearance: Brown

Smith is the most common surname in the English-speaking world, as are equivalents in many other languages, including Schmidt in German, Ferraro / Ferrari in Italian, Herrero in Spanish, Kovač in Serbian, Croatian, Slovak and Slovenian, and Mac Gabhann (McGowan) in Irish. It comes from the Old English word smitan (to smite, strike).

A smith is someone who works with metal, and has been used as an occupational surname since Anglo-Saxon times. There are various kinds of smith, and their names are or were used as surnames, including Blacksmith (works mainly with iron); Brownsmith and Redsmith (work with copper); Goldsmith (works mainly with gold); Shoesmith (makes horseshoes); Sixsmith (makes scythes and sickles – a version of Scythesmith or Sicklesmith), and Whitesmith (works with tin) [source].

The surname Taylor came to Britian with the Normans, and was first used in 1182. It comes from the Old French word tailleur (cutter). It is also common in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA [source].

The surname Wright comes from the Old English word wryhta/wyrhta (worker, shaper of wood). It is also common in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. There are quite a few surname that include wright, such as: Arkwright (a maker of wooden chests), Boatwright (a maker of boats), Cartwright (a maker of carts), Plowright (a maker of ploughs), Wainwright (a maker of wagons) [source].

Other occupational surnames include: Faulkner / Falconer (falcon trainer), Fletcher (arrow maker), Hayward (hedge warden), Parker (keeper of the park) and Walker (a fuller of cloth) [source].

Jones is the most common surname is Wales, and is also common in England and the USA. It’s based on Welsh patronimics meaning “son of John”, such as Mab Ioan or ap Siôn. These were commonly used until the mid 16th century, when Welsh people started using surnames, and many Welsh names were Anglicised, as all official documents had to be in English. Davies and Williams have similar origins [source]. More on Welsh surnames.

The surname Brown was originally a nickname for someone with brown hair or clothing. It’s common in England, Scotland, Canada, Australia and the USA. It was first used in England in 1066 in the form of Brun [source].

Other colour-based surnames include Black (dark-haired, or short for blacksmith), White (possibly referred to pale complexioned Vikings), Green (one who lives by the village green or is from a place called Green), Blue (someone with blue eyes / blue clothes), Red (red haired, ruddy complexion), Orange (associated with the Dutch House of Orange) and Pink (nickname for a bright, chirpy person) [source].

Other sourses
https://www.behindthename.com/name/geoffrey
https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Ager
https://www.familyeducation.com/baby-names/name-meaning/ager


If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting