Adventures in Etymology – Lagniappe

In this adventure, we’re looking into the origins of the word lagniappe.

Lagniappe image

A lagniappe [lænˈjæp] is:

  • An extra or unexpected gift or benefit, such as that given to customers when they purchase something (mainly used in Louisiana & Mississippi, USA, and in Trinidad and Tobago)

By the way, lagniappe is also written lagnappe, lanyap or lanyappe.

It comes from Cajun French lagniappe [la.ɲap] (tip, windfall, unexpected gift), from Spanish la ñapa (something extra given as a bonus; a gratuity), a variant of yapa, from Quechua yapay (addition, sum, to increase) [source]

Apparently in Andean markets it’s customary to ask for a yapa (a little extra) when buying things, and the sellers usually throw in something extra for their customers [source].

In Ireland an equivalent of a lagniappe is a a luck penny or tilly (an extra product given to a customer at no additional charge). The latter comes from the Irish word tuilleadh [ˈt̪ˠɪlʲə] (more) [source].

Do you know words with similar meanings in other languages?

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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.

Celtic Pathways – Holding On

In this episode we’re getting to grips with words for holding and and related things.

Paimpol - Breton Dance Display

A Proto-Celtic word for to grab, seize, take or hold is *gabyeti, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *gʰeh₁bʰ- (to grab, take) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • gabh [ɡavʲ/ɡo(ː)] = to take, arrest, go, come in Irish
  • gabh [gav] = take, go, recite, break (in) in Scottish Gaelic
  • gow = to take in Manx
  • gafael [ˈɡavaɨ̯l/ˈɡaːvai̯l] = to hold, grasp, grip in Welsh
  • gavel = capacity, grasp in Cornish

There doesn’t appear to be a related word in Breton.

The Spanish word gavilla (sheaf, gang, band) comes from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Late Latin gabella and the Gaulish *gabali (taking, seizure) [source].

The word gwall (large amount), and which is apparently used in the English of Cork in Ireland comes from same Celtic roots via the Irish word gabháil (catch, seizure, assumption) [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include able, debt, debit, doubt and habit in English, avere (to have) in Italian, avoir (to have) in French, and haber (to hold, possess) in Spanish [source].

You can find more details of words for Taking Hold and related things 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.

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Adventures in Etymology – Robust

In this adventure we’re untangling the ruddy roots of the word robust.

Here be trees!

Robust means:

  • Strong and healthy (of people or animals)
  • Strong and unlikely to break or fail (of objects or systems)

It comes from Latin rōbustus (oak, oaken, hard, firm, solid), from rōbur (an oak tree, hardness, strength, stronghold), from rōbus (red [esp. oxen]), from Proto-Italic *rouβos (red, ruddy, redheaded), from PIE *h₁rewdʰ- (red) [source].

Words from the same roots include red, rowan, ruby, ruddy and rust in English, rouge (red) in French, and rubor (blusing, blush, embarrassment, shame) and roble (oak, strong object/person, strength) in Spanish [source].

IMG_9879 Rufous Owl (Ninox rufa)
Rufous Owl (Ninox rufa)

The name Rufus also comes from the same roots, as does the English word rufous, which refers to a reddish brown colour, like rust. It’s mainly found in the name of birds, such as the rufous owl (Ninox rufa, a.k.a. rufous boobook), and the rufous-capped antshrike (Thamnophilus ruficapillus) [source].

Rufous-capped Antshrike - Salta - Argentina_CD5A5846
Rufous-capped antshrike (Thamnophilus ruficapillus)

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.

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.

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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.

Celtic Pathways – Hands

In this episode we’re getting to grips with Celtic words for hand and related things.

gemeinsam

A Proto-Celtic word for hand (and palm) is *ɸlāmā, which comes from Proto-Indo-European *pl̥h₂meh₂ (palm, hand), from *pleh₂- (flat) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • lámh [l̪ˠɑːvˠ/l̪ˠæːw] = hand, arm, handle or signature in Irish.
  • làmh [l̪ˠaːv] = hand, arm or handle in Scottish Gaelic
  • laue [læu] = hand, handful, foreleg or arm in Manx
  • llaw [ɬaːu̯] = hand; authority, possession, etc in Welsh
  • leuv [lœ:v / le:v] = hand in Cornish
  • lav [lav] = feathered hand in Breton

The usual word for hand in Breton is dorn, which is related to words for fist in the other Celtic languages. Another Breton word for hand is brec’h, which is related to words for arm in the other languages [source].

The Faroese word lámur ((seal’s) flipper, (cat’s) paw, left hand, (big) hand, left-handed person) comes from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Old Norse lámr (hand, arm) [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include floor, palm, piano, plain and plan in English, piazza (square, plaza, market) in Italian, llano (flat, level, plain) in Spanish, παλάμη (palámi – palm, hand) in Greek, and words for floor and ground in Celtic languages [source]

You can find more details of words for fists, palms, hands and arms and related things on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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Celtic Pathways – Sacred Trees

In this episode we’re exploring the roots of Celtic words for tree and related things.

Llyn Padarn

One Proto-Celtic word for tree is *belyom, which comes from Proto-Indo-European *bʰolh₃yo- (leaf), from *bʰleh₃- (blossom, flower) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bile [ˈbʲɪlʲə] = (large, sacred) tree, a scion or a distinguished person in Irish.
  • bile [bilə] = mast, plough, a cluster of trees, or a sacred tree or grove in Scottish Gaelic
  • billey = tree or big bush in Manx
  • pill [pɪɬ] = (tree) trunk, stock, log, branch, pole, stake, post, fortress or stronghold in Welsh.
  • bill = trunk in Breton

In Manx billey is the usual word for tree, however words for tree have other roots in the other Celtic languages: crann (Irish), craobh (Scottish Gaelic), coeden (Welsh), gwedhen (Cornish) and gwezenn (Breton). Only the Cornish and Breton words are cognate (related).

The Proto-Celtic word *belyom became *bilia [ˈbi.liaː] (tall tree) in Gaulish, which became bille (tree trunk, railway sleeper, rolling pin) and billon (a ridge in a ploughed field) in French, and possibly billa (spigot, tap, stick) in Galician [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include folio and phyllo / fil(l)o (pastry), phyllomancy (diviniation by leaves) in English, feuille (leaf, sheet) in French, and hoja (leaf, petal, blade) in Spanish [source].

You can find more details of words for trees, wood(s) and forests and related things 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.

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Celtic Pathways – Hollow

In this episode we’re delving into Celtic words for hollow and related things.

Hollows

The Proto-Celtic word *tullos means pierced, perforated or hole, and comes from Proto-Indo-European *tewk- (to push, press, beat, pierce, perforate), from *(s)tew- (to push, hit) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • toll [t̪ˠoːl̪ˠ] = hole, hollow, posterior, piereced, empty in Irish.
  • toll [tɔul̪ˠ] = hole, penetration, hole, hold (of a ship) in Scottish Gaelic
  • towl = aperture, bore, cavity, crater, hole, hollow in Manx
  • twll [tʊɬ] = hole, aperture, dimple, hollow, pit, cave, burrow, den, orifice in Welsh.
  • toll = burrow, hollow, hole, opening, orifice in Cornish
  • toull [ˈtulː] = holed, pierced, hole, entrance in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root in other languages include tollo (hole in the ground where hunters hide, puddle) in Spanish, toll (pool, puddle) in Catalan, and tol (ditch, dam) in Galician [source].

Words from the same PIE root possibly include tkát (to weave) in Czech, тъка [tɐˈkɤ] (to spin, plait, entwine, weave) in Bulgarian and tkać (to weave, stick, tuck) in Polish [source]. Also stoke in English, stoken (to poke, stoke, light a fire, stir up) in Dutch, and estoquer (to impale) in French [source]

You can find more details of words for hollows, holes, caves and related things 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.

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Celtic Pathways – Phoney Rings

In this episode we look into the possibly Celtic roots of the word phoney, and find out how it is connected to words for ring and related things.

Irish Claddagh Ring

The Proto-Celtic word *ānniyos means ring, and comes from Proto-Indo-European *h₁eh₂no- (ring). [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • fáinne [ˈfˠɑːɲə/ˈfˠæːn̠ʲə] = ring, circle, ringlet, curl or halo in Irish.
  • fàinne [faːn̪ʲə] = ring, ringlet or circle in Scottish Gaelic
  • fainney = circle, puck, wreathe or ring in Manx

The English word phon(e)y (fraudulent, fake) possibly comes from the old slang word fawney (a finger ring, a gilt brass ring used by swindlers), from the Irish fáinne (ring) [source].

The Hiberno-English word fainne [ˈfɑnjə/ˈfɔnjə], which refers to a pin badge worn to show fluency in, or a willingness to speak Irish, also comes from the same Irish root [source]. More information about the fainne badge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fáinne

Other words from the same PIE root, via the Latin ānus (ring, anus) include annular (ring-shaped, banded/marked with circles) and anus in English, անուր (anur – collar, oppression, yoke) in Armenian, anneau (ring) in French, and anello (ring, link) in Italian [source].

You can find more details of words for circles, rings and related things 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.

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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.

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Celtic Pathways – Surface and Skin

In this episode we’re looking into words for surface, skin and related things in Celtic languages.

Hippo very close

The Proto-Celtic *tondā means surface or skin and comes from the Proto-Indo-European *tend- (to cut off) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic language include:

  • tonn [t̪ˠɑun̪ˠ] = surface or skin in Irish.
  • tonn [tɔun̪ˠ] = skin or hide in Scottish Gaelic
  • ton [tɔn] = rind, crust, peel, turf, unploughed land or lawn in Welsh
  • ton = grass in Cornish
  • ton [tɔn] = rind or surface in Breton

There doesn’t appear to be a cognate in Manx.

The English word tonne/ton comes from the same Proto-Celtic root, via French, Latin and Gaulish [source]. Other words from the same Proto-Celtic root include tonne (tonne/ton) in French, tona (tun – a type of cask, ton/tonne) and tonya (a type of sweet bun) in Catalan, tona (surface, skin, bark) and tonel (barrel, tun) in Galician, and tonel (barrel) in Spanish [source].

Incidentally, the English word tun (a large cask, fermenting vat) probably comes from the same roots, via Middle English, Old English, Proto-Germanic, Latin and Gaulish, as does the German word Tonne (barrel, vat, tun, drum), the Dutch word ton (barrel, ton, large amount), and the Irish word tunna (cask), which was borrowed from Latin [source].
(A bit of bonus content that’s not included in the recording.)

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.

Adventures in Etymology – Herbs

In this Adventure we’re digging up the origins of the word herb.

Herbs

A herb [hɜːb/(h)ɝb] is:

  • Any green, leafy plant, or parts thereof, used to flavour or season food.
  • A plant whose roots, leaves or seeds, etc. are used in medicine.

It comes from Middle English herbe [ˈhɛ(ː)rb(ə)] (a herbaceous plant, herbage, woody plant, tree), from Old French erbe [ˈɛr.bə] (grass, herb), from Latin herba [ˈher.ba] (grass, herbage, herb, weeds, plant), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰreh₁- (to grow, become green) [source].

The initial h sound in herb disappeared at some point, and was restored during the 15th century based on the Latin spelling. However, it wasn’t pronounced by many people until the 19th century, and still isn’t by many speakers, especially in North America.

Words from the same roots include grow, green, graze, gray/grey in English, herbe (grass) in French, erba (grass, herb) in Italian, and hierba (herb, grass) in Spanish [source].

Incidentally, this is the 100th episode of this series, which started in March 2021. You can find a list of all the words covered on Radio Omniglot. If you would like me to look into any words that I haven’t already covered, in English or other languages, you can leave your suggestions there as well.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate 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.

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