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

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

Adventures in Etymolgy 24 – Ado

Today we are looking at the word ado [əˈduː], so without further ado, let’s go.

Much Ado About Nothing

Definition:

  • bustle, fuss, flurry, confusion, turmoil, commotion, trouble, bother, bustling activity

[source]

It tends used in set expressions, such as “without further ado” and “with much ado” and is sometimes replaced with to-do, which means the same thing.

It comes from a Northern Middle English expression at do – the at comes from Old Norse, where it’s an infinitive marker, and such infinitive markers are still used in Danish (at), Swedish (att) and Norwegian (att). The do comes from the Middle English do(n) (to do) [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 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 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

Adventures in Etymology 15 – Sky

Today we are looking at the word sky [skaɪ].

Clouds

Definition:
– the region of the clouds or the upper air; the upper atmosphere of the earth
– the heavens or firmament, appearing as a great arch or vault
– the supernal or celestial heaven

It comes from the Middle English word sky [skiː] (sky, cloud, mist), from the Old Norse ský [ˈskyː] (cloud), from the Proto-Germanic *skiwją [ˈskiw.jɑ̃] (cloud, sky), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)kewH- (to cover, hide, cloud) [source].

In Old English the word for sky (and heaven) was heofon [ˈhe͜o.von], from the Proto-West Germanic *hebn (sky, heaven), which became heaven in modern English [source].

Related words in other languages include sky [ˈskyˀ] (cloud) in Danish, sky [ʂyː] (cloud) in Norwegian, sky [ɧyː] (sky, cloud) in Swedish, ský [sciː] (cloud) in Icelandic,and skýggj [skʊt͡ʃː] (cloud) in Faroese. A more common word for sky in Swedish is himmel, and cloud is moln [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 etymology on the Omniglot Blog. There are more details about words for sky in the post When is the sky not the sky?.

Adventures in Etymology 13 – Connect

Today we are looking at the word connect [ˌkəˈnɛkt], a word that joins, links, unites, binds and fastens together.

knot

It comes from the Latin word connectere (to fasten together), from cōnectō (I connect, link, fasten together), from con- (together) and nectō (I bind), from the PIE *gned-/*gnod- (to bind).

Words from the same root include: knot, knit, node in English, knot [knɔt] (knot, (hair) bun, skein) in Dutch, Knoten [ˈknoːtən] (knot, interchange) in German, and knude [knuːðə] (knot, node) in Danish.

I chose this word because I think that learning languages is a way to make connections. Connections with other places and people and cultures and ideas.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Adventures in Etymology 9 – Window

Today we are looking at the word window [ˈwɪndəʊ / ˈwɪndoʊ].

Definition: an opening in the wall of a building, the side of a vehicle, etc., for the admission of air or light, or both, commonly fitted with a frame in which are set movable sashes containing panes of glass [source].

Windows

Window comes from the Middle English windowe/windohe/windoge, from the Old Norse vindauga (window) or literally “wind-eye/wind-hole”, as windows were originally unglazed holes in walls or roofs that allowed the wind to pass through [source].

Another word for window in Middle English was fenestre/fenester, which was used in parallel with windowe/windohe/windoge until the mid 16th century. It comes from the Old French fenestre (window), from the Latin fenestra (window, breach, loophole, orifice, inlet), which possibly came from Etruscan.

In Old English a window was known as an eagþyrel [ˈæ͜ɑːɣˌθyː.rel] (“eye-hole”) or ēagduru [ˈæ͜ɑːɣˌdu.ru] (“eye-door”). This fell out of use by about 1200 AD [source].

Words for window in some other Germanic languages are similar to window, including vindue [ˈvend̥u] in Danish, vindu in Norwegian, vindeyga [ˈvɪntˌɛiːja] in Faroese, and vindöga in Swedish, although that is no longer used, and fönster is used instead.

Words for window in the Goidelic languages were borrowed from Old Norse: fuinneog [ˈfˠɪn̠ʲoːɡ] in Irish, uinneag [ɯn̪ʲag] in Scottish Gaelic and uinnag [onˈjaɡ] in Manx [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 etymology on the Omniglot Blog.

Adventures in Etymology 3 – Eggs

As it is Easter – Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it, or Happy Sunday to those who don’t – I thought I’d look into the origins of an important Easter-related word, no not Easter, but egg.

Eggs.

The word egg comes the Middle English egge, from Old Norse egg, from Proto-Germanic *ajją [ˈɑj.jɑ̃], from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ōwyóm (egg), probably from *h₂éwis (bird) [source].

Egg, with the same spelling, is also found in Icelandic, Faroese and Norwegian, and with different spelling in Swedish and Danish, pronounced slightly different in each language – egg [ˈɛkː] in Icelandic, egg [ɛkː] in Faroese, egg [ɛɡ] in Norwegian, ägg [ɛɡː] in Swedish, and in æg [ˈɛˀɡ̊] Danish. In Dutch and German, words for egg are like the original English word: Ei [aɪ̯] in German and ei [ɛi̯] in Dutch [source].

The originally English word for egg was ey [ei] from the Old English ǣġ [æːj], from the same Proto-Germanic root as egg. It was used until the 16th century, when it was replaced with egg, possibly because it got confused with the word eye, as in the thing you see with [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 etymology on the Omniglot Blog.

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