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.
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].
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.