Adventures in Etymology – Shambling Shambles

In this Adventure in Etymology we’re looking into the origins of the word shamble (and shambles).

Shambles
The Shambles in York

To shamble means to walk while shuffling or dragging the feet, and a shamble is one of a succession of niches or platforms, one above another, to hold ore which is thrown successively from platform to platform, and thus raised to a higher level in a mine.

It comes from Middle English schamel / schambyll [ˈʃaːməl] (footstool), from Old English sċamol [ˈʃɑ.mol] (stool), from Proto-West Germanic *skamil (stool, bench), from Latin scabellum (footstool, a kind of percussion instrument played with the foot), from scamnum (stool, step, bench, ridge), from PIE *skabʰ- (to hold up) [source].

Words from the same roots include scanno (seat, bench, stool) in Italian, escano (bench, footstool) in Portuguese, scaun (chair, seat, stool, throne, residence, butcher’s block) in Romanian, Schemel (footstool) in German, and iskemle (chair) in Turkish [source].

In the plural, shambles means a scene of great disorder or ruin, a great mess or clutter, a scene of bloodshed, carnage or devastation, or a slaughterhouse, and it used to mean a butcher’s shop. It comes from the same roots as the singular shamble [source].

There’s a street in York in the north of England called The Shambles (see the photo above), that was once home to many butchers. They originally displayed their wares on stalls or benches known as shamels or schambylls, which gave the street its name. There are several similarly-named streets in other parts of the UK and Ireland [source].

Incidentally, a German equivalent of shamble is schlurfen [ˈʃlʊɐ̯fn̩], which means to shuffle (walk without picking up one’s feet). It’s related to the English word slurp [source].

Now it’s time to shamble off. I made a bit of an omnishambles of this post – I wrote most of it, then accidentally deleted half of it and had to rewrite it as I couldn’t retrieve the lost bits. I hope it’s not too shambolic.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, TuneIn, Podchaser, Podbay or Podtail and other pod places.

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

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

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 blog.

Unlimited Web Hosting - Kualo

Celtic Pathways – Truant

In this episode we find out what links the word truant with words for beggar, wretch and related things in Celtic and other languages.

Begging

Truant [ˈtɹʊənt/ˈtɹuː.ənt] means:

  • Absent without permission, especially from school.
  • Wandering from business or duty; straying; loitering; idle, and shirking duty
  • One who is absent without permission, especially from school.

It comes from Middle English truant/truand (one who receives alms, a begger, vagabond, vagrant, scoundrel, rogue, shiftless or good-for-nothing fellow) from Old French truand (vagabond, beggar, rogue), either from Gaulish *trugan (wretch), or from Breton truant (beggar), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *terh₁- (to rub, turn, drill, pierce) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • trua [t̪ˠɾˠuə] = pity, sympathy, compassion, miserable person or wretch in Irish.
  • truaghan [truəɣan] = poor soul, poor thing or wretch in Scottish Gaelic
  • truanagh = miserable, mournful or sorrowful person in Manx
  • truan = wretch, miserable person; wretched, miserable, pathetic, poor or weak in Welsh
  • truan = sad, miserable, unfortunate or wretched in Cornish
  • truant = beggar in Breton

Other words from the same Proto-Celtic root include truand [tʁy.ɑ̃] (crook, gangster, beggar) in French [source], truhan [tɾuˈan] (scoundrel, scammer, swindler, rogue, crook, [historically] jester, buffoon) in Spanish, truão (jester) in Portuguese, and trogo (jester) in Galician [source].

Incidentally, words for truant in Celtic languages include: fánach in Irish, air falach in Scottish Gaelic, truggan in Manx, and triwant in Welsh.

What do you call the action of playing truant?

For me its skiving (off) and when you do it, you’re a skiver.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

You can find more details of these words on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Celtic Pathways – Berets

In this episode we’re uncovering the Celtic origins of the word beret.

Fête du Boeuf Gras à Bazas

A beret [ˈbɛɹ.eɪ/bəˈɹeɪ] is:

  • A type of round, brimless cap with a soft top and a headband to secure it to the head; usually culturally associated with France.

It comes from the French béret (beret), from the Occitan (Gascon) berret (cap), from the Medieval Latin birretum (a kind of hat), from the Late Latin birrus (a large hooded cloak, a cloak to keep off rain, made of silk or wool), from the Gaulish birrus (a coarse kind of thick woollen cloth; a woollen cap or hood worn over the shoulders or head), from the Proto-Celtic *birros (short), the origins of which are not known [source]

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bearr [bˠɑːɾˠ] = to clip, cut, trim, shave, skim (milk), crop or pare (photos) in Irish.
  • beàrr [baːr̪ˠ] = to shave, cut (hair), clip, shear or prune in Scottish Gaelic
  • baarey = to bare, clip, cut, dress, poll, prune, shave or trimmed in Manx
  • byr [bɨ̞r/bɪr] = short, brief or concise in Welsh
  • berr [bɛɹ] = short or brief in Cornish
  • berr = short in Breton

Other words from the Proto-Celtic root *birros, via Latin and Gaulish, include biretta (a square cap worn by some Roman Catholic priests) and berretto (beanie, cap) in Italian, barrete (biretta, cap) in Portuguese, birrete (biretta) in French, and βίρρος [ˈβir.ros] (a type of cloak or mantle) in Ancient Greek [source].

Biretta

Incidentally, words from beret in Celtic languages include: bairéad (beret, biretta, cap, hat, bonnet) in Irish, beeray or bayrn Frangagh (“French cap/hat”) in Manx, bere(t)/bered in Welsh, and béret/bered/boned in Breton.

You can find more details of these words on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Celtic Pathways – Bulls

In this episode we’re looking into bulls and related beasts.

What a load of bull

The Proto-Celtic word *tarwos means bull, and comes from the Proto-Indo-European *táwros (wild bull, aurochs), which possibly comes from or was borrowed into Proto-Semtic as *ṯawr- (bull, ox), from which we get ثَوْر (ṯawr – bull, steer, ox, Taurus) in Arabic [Source].

Related words in Celtic language include:

  • tarbh [ˈt̪ˠaɾˠuː] = bull or Taurus in Irish
  • tarbh [tarav] = bull in Scottish Gaelic
  • tarroo = bull in Manx
  • tarw [ˈtaru] = bull, uncastrated male ox, papal bull or Taurus in Welsh
  • tarow = bull in Cornish
  • tarv = bull in Breton

The Old Irish Irish word for bull, tarb [tarv], was borrowed into Old Norse as tarfr, which became tarvur (bull, Taurus, womanizer) in Faroese, and tarfur (bull) in Icelandic [Source].

Words from the same PIE root include Taurus and steer in English, taureau (bull, Taurus) in French, toro (bull) in Spanish, and touro (bull) in Portuguese [Source].

You can be find more details of words for bulls and other cattle on the Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Celtic Pathways – Rivers

In this episode we’re diving into words for river.

Afon Ogwen River

A Proto-Celtic word for river was *abonā/*abū, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *h₂ep- (water, body of water) [Source].

Related words in Celtic language include:

  • abhainn [əunʲ/oːn̠ʲ] = river in Irish
  • abhainn [a.ɪn̪ʲ] = river or stream in Scottish
  • awin [ˈawənʲ] = river in Manx
  • afon [ˈavɔn] = river or stream in Welsh
  • avon [ˈavɔn] = river in Cornish
  • aven [ˈɑː.ven] = river in Breton

The names of the river Avon in England and the river A’an (Avon) in Scotland were borrowed from Proto-Brythonic the *aβon (river) [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include अप् (ap – water, Virgo) in Sanskrit, and possibly words for ape in English and other Germanic languages, which might have originally referred to a water sprite [source].

Another Proto-Celtic word for river was *rēnos, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *h₃reyH- (to flow, stream) [source].

Related words in Celtic languages include:

  • rían [r͈ʲiːa̯n] = sea, ocean, path, course, way or manner in Old Irish
  • rian = course, path, mark, trace, track or vigour in modern Irish
  • rian [r̪ʲian] = method, mode, system, arrangement, control, management, order or sense in Scottish Gaelic
  • rane = stanza, track or verse in Manx

Names for the river Rhine in many languages come from the same roots, via the Latin Rhēnus and/or Gaulish Rēnos. For example, the English word Rhein comes from Middle English Rine/Ryne, from Old English Rīn, from Middle/Old High German Rīn, from Proto-West Germanic *Rīn, from Proto-Germanic *Rīnaz, from Gaulish Rēnos [source].

The Latin word rīvus (small stream, brook, rivulet) comes from the same PIE roots, and is the root of river-related words in Romance languages, such as rio in Italian and Portuguese, and ruisseau (stream, brook, creek) in French [source].

Incidentally, the English word river comes from Middle English ryver/river(e), from Anglo-Norman rivere, from Old French riviere, from Vulgar Latin *rīpāria (riverbank, seashore, river), from Latin rīpārius (of a riverbank), from Latin rīpa (river bank), from PIE *h₁reyp- (to scratch, tear, cut) [source].

You can be find more details of Celtic words for river on the Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Celtic Pathways – Fields and Quays

In this episode we are looking into words for field, quay and related things.

Mersey ferry

The Proto-Celtic word *kagyom means a pen or enclosure. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European *kagʰyóm (enclosure) [Source].

Related words in modern Celtic language include:

  • cai [ˈalˠə] = field, orchard or crop in Old Irish
  • cae [ˈalarχ/ˈaːlarχ] = hedge, hedgerow, fence; field, enclosure; circle, sphere; barrier or obstruction in Welsh
  • ke = hedge or fence in Cornish
  • kae = hedge or quay in Breton

The English word quay in English, was borrowed from the French word quai (quay, wharf, platfrom), which comes from the Latin caium (storehouse, shop, workshop, quay, wharf), from the Gaulish cagiíun/*kagyom, from the Proto-Celtic *kagyom. The Portuguese word cais (quay, wharf, pier) comes from the same roots [Source].

Other words from the same roots include:

  • [kʲeː] = quay in Irish
  • cidhe [kʲi.ə] = quay in Scottish Gaelic
  • keiy = jetty or quay(side) in Manx
  • cei [kei̯] = quay in Welsh
  • kay = quay in Cornish

The Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx words for quay come from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Anglo-Norman kay, cail (quay, wharf) and Gaulish [source]. The Welsh and Cornish words for quay also come from the same Proto-Celtic root, via Middle English, Old French and Gaulish [source].

There are quite a few other words for Fields, Meadows and Pastures in Celtic languages. You can be find more details on the Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Amok and Havoc

In this Adventure we’re looking into the origins of the words amok and havoc. It’s a double bill this week as I had a break for Christmas last week.

cry havoc

Amok [əˈmɒk/əˈmʌk] means:

  • Out of control, especially when armed and dangerous.
  • In a frenzy of violence, or on a killing spree; berserk.

It usually appears in the phrase to run amok, which means to go on a rampage, to be in an uncontrollable rage, to go beserk, to go postal or to wreak havoc [source].

Amok comes from the Portuguese amouco (amok), from the Malay amuk (to go on a killing spree, to run amok), from the Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *hamuk. The Tagalog word hamok (fierce fighting, brawl) and the Māori word amo (to charge, attack) come from the same roots [source].

Other English words derived from Malay include bamboo, camphor, cassowary, cockatoo, compound (as in an enclousure), gecko, gingham, gong and orangutan [source].

The word havoc [ˈhævək] means:

  • Widespread devastation and destruction, mayhem
  • to pillage, cause havoc

It comes from the Middle English havok (plunder, pillage), from the Old French havok, from havot (pillaging, looting) [source].

It appears in the phrase to wreak havoc, which means to cause damage, disruption or destruction [source]. Incidentally, I wrote about the word wreak on the Omniglot blog this week.

In Middle English it was used in the phrases crien havok (to give the signal for general plundering, and maken havok (to plunder thoroughly and indscriminately) [source]. The phrase, to cry havoc (to give an army the order to plunder) was and possibly still is used in modern English [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

I chose these words because I spent Christmas with my family (see below), including my niece and nephews, who are all under 10. While they didn’t exactly run amok or wreak havoc, a house full of young children can be a bit chaotic.

My family / Fy nheulu

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Celtic Pathways – Coracle

In this episode we’re getting out onto the river to look into the word coracle.

John Baker's Doppelmonk Brogue K188 Kalbsleder hellbraun (brown) (1)

A coracle is a small, rounded, lightweight boat traditionally used in Wales, in parts of the West Country of England. in Ireland and in Scotland. It is made of a framework of split and interwoven willow rods, tied with willow bark and traditionally covered with an animal skin such as horse or bullock hide, with a thin layer of tar to waterproof it. These days calico, canvas or fibreglass are used instead of animal hide [source].

They are also known as currachs/curraghs in Ireland and Scotland, and these words were all borrowed from Celtic languages: coracle from Welsh, currach/curragh from Irish or Scottish Gaelic.

Related words in Celtic language include:

  • curach [kəˈɾˠax] = currach, coracle in Irish
  • curach [kurəx] = coracle, curragh, frame (of a coracle or an animal) in Scottish Gaelic
  • curragh [ˈkɔrʊɡ(i)] = coracle, canoe in Manx
  • corwg(l) = coracle, skiff; vessel, drinking vessel in Welsh
  • koroug = coracle in Cornish
  • korac’h = coracle in Breton

These words comes from the Proto-Celtic *korukos (leather boat), probably from the PIE *(s)koro- (leather), from *(s)ker- (to cut off) [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include cuir (leather) in French, cuero (leather, animal skin, hide) in Spanish and couro (leather, hide) in Portuguese [source].

More details of shoe– and trouser-related words in Celtic languages can be found on the Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Celtic Pathways – Crooked and Twisted

In this episode we’re looking at some crooked and twisted words.

Spiral staircase in Conwy / Grisiau troellog yng Nghonwy

In Proto-Celtic, the word *kambos meant twisted, crooked or bent. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European word *kh₂em- (to arch, bend, curve), from *(s)ḱh₂embos (crooked) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • cam [kaumˠ] = bend, bent, crooked, crookedness, fraud; to bend, crook, distort in Irish
  • cam [kaum] = bent, crooked, awry, not straight, squinty, wry, one-eyed; bend, curve, trick in Scottish Gaelic
  • cam = bent, crooked, deceitful, intricate, knotty, perverse, rakish, wry, wrong in Manx
  • cam [kam] = crooked, bent, hunch-backed, distorted, wry, bowed, curved, looped, winding in Welsh
  • kamm = bent, crooked, erroneous, error, wrong in Cornish
  • kamm = angled, bent, bend in Breton

The Proto-Celtic word *kambos is the root of the Galician words camba (doorjamb of an oven, handmill), cambar (to bend), cambiar (to change) [source]. The word cambiar (to change) in Spanish and Portuguese, and the word change in English come from the same Celtic roots [source].

*kambos is possibly also the root of the French word as camus [ka.my] (flat-nosed, snub-nosed) [source], which was borrowed into English as camous/camoys (flat, depressed, crooked nose – used until the 19th century) [source].

The English word kam (crooked, awry) was borrowed from the Welsh word cam, but is no longer used [source].

The name Campbell comes from the Scottish Gaelic Caimbeul, from cam (crooked) and beul (mouth) [source], while Cameron comes from Camshròn, from cam (crooked) and sròn (nose) [source].

More details of crooked words in Celtic languages can be found on the Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Celtic Pathways – Clan

In this episode we’re looking a the word clan and related things in Celtic languages.

Dufftown Highland Games

The word clan in English means a group of people descended from a common ancestor, a traditional social group of families in the Scottish Highlands having a common hereditary chieftain, or any group defined by family ties with some sort of political unity [source].

It was borrowed from clann in Irish or Scottish Gaelic, which come from the Old Irish cland (children, family, offspring, plant), from the Old Welsh plant (children, young people, offspring), from the Latin planta (vegetable, sprout, shoot, twig, shrub), possibly from the Proto-Italic *plāntā, from the Proto-Indo-European *pleh₂- (flat) or from the Proto-Italic *plānktā, from the Proto-Indo-European *pleh₂k-/*pleh₂g- (to strike, fast) [source].

Related words in the Celtic languages include:

  • clann [kl̪ˠɑun̪ˠ/kl̪ˠɑːn̪ˠ/kl̪ˠan̪ˠ] = children, offspring, race, descendents, clan, followers, plant, lock (of hair),
    and planda [pl̪ˠaun̪ˠd̪ˠə] = plant, scion in Irish
  • clann [kl̪ˠaun̪ˠ] = children, offspring, progeny, clan, lock of hair, curl
    and plannt [pl̪ˠãũn̪ˠd] = plant in Scottish Gaelic
  • cloan [klɔːn] = children, descendent, family circle,
    and plant = plant in Manx
  • plant [plant] = children, young people, offspring, progeny, descendents, followers, disciples, servants in Welsh
  • plans = plant in Cornish
  • plantenn = plant in Breton

The English word plant comes from the same roots, via Middle English, Old English and Latin [source], as does the word plantain, via Middle English, Anglo-Norman, Old French and Latin [source].

The word clan was borrowed from English into various other languages, including Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish. It even ended up in Turkish, via French. So the Turkish word klan arrived via French, English, Irish/Scottish Gaelic, Old Irish, Old Welsh, Latin, Proto-Italic and Proto-Indo-European – quite a journey! [source]

More details about these words on Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com