Adventures in Etymology – Escape

In this Adventure in Etymology we free ourselves by looking into the word escape.

Escape

Escape [ɪˈskeɪp / əˈskeɪp] can mean:

  • To get free; to free oneself.
  • To avoid (any unpleasant person or thing); to elude, get away from
  • To avoid capture; to get away with something, avoid punishment
  • To elude the observation or notice of; to not be seen or remembered by

It comes from Middle English escāpen (to free oneself, get away, avoid, elude), from Old Northern French escaper (to evade, avoid) from Vulgar Latin *excappāre (to escape) from ex- (out) and cappa (cape, cloak), or literally “to get out of one’s cape; to leave a pursuer with just one’s cape” [source].

Words from the same roots include escapade (a daring or adventurous act; an undertaking which goes against convention) in English, scappare (to run away, flee, escape) in Italian, échapper (to escape, evade) in French, and escapar (to escape, get out, run away) in Spanish [source].

The English word scamper (to run lightly and quickly, especially in a playful or undignified manner) possibly comes from similar roots, via Middle Dutch schamperen (to insult, scorn, dishonour), Old French esc(h)amper (to break loose) and Vulgar Latin *excampāre, from ex- (out) and campō, from campus (field) [source].

Other interesting English word related to escaping include:

  • absquatulate = to leave quickly or in a hurry, to depart, flee, abscond – a jocular mock-Latin word coined in the USA in the 1830s from abscond, squat and perambulate [source].
  • skedaddle = to move or run away quickly – appeared in the USA in the 1860s. Possibly from scaddle, a UK dialect word meaning to run off in fright [source].
  • vamoose = to run away, flee, hurry – from Spanish vamos (we go) or vámonos (let’s go) [source].

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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.

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Celtic Pathways – Bills and Gouges

In this episode we find connections between Celtic bills and beaks, and chisels and gouges in other languages.

Chisels

A gouge [ɡaʊdʒ] is a chisel with a curved blade for cutting or scooping channels, grooves, or holes in wood, stone, etc.

The word comes from Middle English gouge (gouge), from Old French gouge (gouge), from Late Latin goia / gu(l)bia (chisel, piercer), from Gaulish *gulbiā (beak, bill), from Proto-Celtic *gulbā / *gulbīnos (beak, bill) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • gulba = beak, bill, tip, point, projection in Irish
  • gulb [gul̪ˠub] = beak, nose in Scottish Gaelic
  • gylf = sharp point, knife, bird’s beak or snout in Welsh
  • gelvin = beak, bill in Cornish
  • gwlib = curlew, whimbrel (?) in Breton

Other words from the same Proto-Celtic roots, via Gaulish and Latin, include gulbia (gouge) in Galician, gubia (gouge) in Spanish, gorbia (ferrule*) in Italian [source].

*A ferrule is band or cap (usually metal) placed around a shaft to reinforce it or to prevent splitting [source].

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Incidentally, the word chisel comes from Old Northern French c(h)isel (cutting tool, chisel), from cisoir (cutting tool), from Late Latin cīsōrium (cutting instrument), from Latin caedō (to cut, hew, fell), from Proto-Italic *kaidō, from PIE *kh₂eyd- (to cut, hew) [source].

Words from the same roots include cement, concise, decide, excise, hit, incision, precise and scissors in English; and hitta (to find, locate) in Swedish [source].

More about words for Beaks and Snouts and related things in Celtic languages.

You can find more connections between Celtic languages 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 – Brio

In this episode we discover the Celtic power behind some vigorous Romance and English words.

Brio

The English word brio [ˈbɹiːoʊ] means vigour or vivacity. When used in musical directions, as con brio, it means with spirit, with vigour, vivciously [source].

It comes from Italian brio (vivacity, liveliness), from Spanish brío (vigour, mettle, zest, zeal), from Old Occitan briu (wild), from Gaulish *brīgos (strength), from Proto-Celtic *brīgos (power, worth), possibly from PIE *bʰerǵʰ- (to rise; high) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • brí [brʲiː] = strength, vigour; force, significance, influence or merit in Irish
  • brìgh [brʲiː] = essence, gist, matter, pith, purport or substance in Scottish Gaelic
  • bree = power, energy, stamina or vigour in Manx
  • bri [briː] = honour, dignity, reputation, fame or prestige in Welsh
  • bri = distinction, importance, relevance or reputation in Cornish
  • bri [briː] = dignity or honour in Breton

Other words from the same Proto-Celtic roots include briu (energy, push, courage) in Catalan, brio (brilliance, panache) in French, and brio in Italian, brío in Spanish (as mentioned above).

Words from the same PIE roots possibly include barrow, burrow, bury, effort, force and fort in English, and brenin (king), bwrw (to hit, strike, cast) in Welsh [Source].

Incidentally, the musical direction forte (f), which indicates that a passage in music is to be played loudly or strongly, also comes from the same PIE roots, via Italian and Latin, as does the English word forte (strength, talent), though via Middle French [Source].

More about words for Strength and related things in Celtic languages.

You can find more connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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Adventures in Etymology – Dinkus

In this Adventure in Etymology we find out what the dickens a dinkus is, and what to do with an asterism.

Dinkus

A dinkus is:

  • A small drawing or artwork used for decoration in a magazine or periodical.
  • A small ornament, usually a line of three asterisks (* * *), especially for the purpose of breaking up sections of a chapter, article, or other text
⁎⁎⁎

It comes from German Ding (thing), from Old High German thing [ðinɡ] (thing, object, matter, case), from Proto-West Germanic *þing (court session, lawsuit, affair, matter, thing, object), from Proto-Germanic *þingą (date, appointment, meeting, assembly, matter, issue) [source].

Words from the same roots include thing in English, ding (matter, thing) in Dutch, þing [θiŋk] (assembly, meeting, council, parliament) in Icelandic, and ting (thing, court of law, legislative assembly) in Swedish [source].

Dinkus should not be confused with dingus, which can refer to something whose name you’ve forgot, i.e. a thingamajig, whatchamacallit, etc in North American and South African. In the USA and Canada it can also refer to a foolish, incompetent, or silly person [source].

Dingus was possibly borrowed from Dutch and/or Afrikaans dinges (thingamajig, whatshisname) and ding (thing).

An asterism is:

  • A rarely used typographical symbol (⁂, three asterisks arranged in a triangle), used to call attention to a passage or to separate subchapters in a book (like a dinkus).
  • An unofficial constellation (small group of stars that forms a visible pattern).

It comes from Ancient Greek ἀστερισμός [ˈæs.təˌɹɪz.əm] (a group of stars), from ἀστήρ [asˈtir] (star, planet, illustrious person, starfish) [source].

Asterism is also the name of a Japanese band:

The word asterisk (*) comes from the same roots, via Late Latin asteriscus (small star and Ancient Greek ἀστερῐ́σκος [as.teˈris.kos] (small star) [source].

Two asterisks on top of each other (⁑) are apparently used in texts to denote emphasis, comments, footnotes, corrections, or other similar annotations [source].

Parc Asterix

Incidentally, Asterix, the Gaulish hero of the comic books by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, gets his name from the French word astérisque (asterisk) combined with the Gaulish word *rīx (king) [source].

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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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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.

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Celtic Pathways – Brooms

In this episode we’re sweeping French floors with Celtic shrubs.

brooms

The Proto-Celtic word *banatlo- means broom, as in the shrub Cytisus scoparius (a.k.a. common broom / Scotch broom) or similar plants. It comes from Proto-Indo-European *bʰenH-tlom (way, path) in the sense of “cleared path (in a wood)” [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bealaidh [bɛl̪ˠɪ] = broom in Scottish Gaelic
  • banadl [ˈbanadl] = broom in Welsh
  • banadhel = broom in Cornish
  • balan [ˈbɑːlãn] = broom in Breton

They all mean broom, as in the shrub, although the exact species of broom plant they refer to may vary from language to language.

According to An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language by Alexander MacBain (1982), there is a cognate in Irish: beally/i, however it doesn’t appear in any of the Irish dictionaries I’ve checked.

The French word balai (broom, broomstick, brush) ultimately comes from the same Proto-Celtic root, via Old French balain (bundle of broom), Middle Breton balain, balazn, Old Breton balan (broom) and Gaulish *balano- (broom, broom plant), as does bálago (straw, Spanish broom) in Spanish and balea (broom) in Galician, possibly via Celtiberian *bálago-, *bálaco- [source].

Words same PIE roots possibly include bana (course, path, trajectory) in Swedish, baan (road, path, track, job, orbit) in Dutch, and Bahn (route, trail, railway) in German [source].

More about words for Brushes and Broom and related things in Celtic languages.

Incidentally, the tune at the beginning of this episode is one of my own compositions called Apple Blossom / Blodau Afal. Here’s a longer recording of it:

You can find more connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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Adventures in Etymology – Stable Stables

In this Adventure in Etymology we find out whether the words stable (a building for horses) and stable (steady, permanent) are related.

Stables

A stable is:

  • a building for the lodging and feeding of horses, cattle, etc.
  • a collection of animals housed in such a building. [other meanings are available]

It comes from Middle Englsh stable (a building for horses), from Anglo-Norman stable (a place for keeping animals), from Latin stablum (dwelling, stable, hut, tavern), from stō (to stand, stay, remain) and‎ -bulum (instrumental suffix) [source].

In Old English, a stable was a horsern [ˈhorˠzˌerˠn] (“horse place”) [source] or a steall [stæ͜ɑll], from which we get the word stall (a compartment for a single animal in a stable or cattle shed) [source].

As an adjective stable means:

  • Relatively unchanging, steady, permanent; firmly fixed or established; consistent; not easily moved, altered, or destroyed

It comes from Middle English stable, from Anglo-Norman stable / stabel (stable, firm), from Latin stabilis (firm, steadfast), from stō (to stand, stay, remain) and -abilis (able). It displaced the Old English word for stable, staþolfæst [ˈstɑ.ðolˌfæst] [source].

So it seems that these two words do come from the same roots. Other words from the same roots include stage, stand, state and stamina in English, stabbio (pen, fold, pigsty) in Italian, estar (to be) in Spanish, and ystafell (room, building, house) in Welsh [source].

I forget mention on the podcast, but the reason I chose the word stable for this adventure is because it’s related to the Scottish Gaelic sabhal [sa.əl̪ˠ] (barn), which comes from Middle Irish saball, from Latin stabulum [source], and I’ve just spent a week doing a course in Scottish Gaelic songs at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (“Ostag’s Big Barn”), the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye [more details].

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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Celtic Pathways – Needles and Scythes

In this episode we discover Romance scythes in a stack of Celtic pins and needles.

Pins and Needles

The Proto-Celtic word *delgos means pin or needle. It comes from Proto-Indo-European *dʰelg- (sting) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • dealg [ˈdʲal̪ˠəɡ] = thorn, prickle, spine, spike, pin, peg or brooch in Irish
  • dealg [dʲal̪ˠag] = pin, skewer or knitting needle in Scottish Gaelic
  • jialg = needle, prick, quill, thorn or pin in Manx
  • dala [ˈdala] = sting or bite in Welsh

Words from the same Proto-Celtic roots, via Gaulish *dalgis (scythe) and Latin *daculum (scythe) , possibly include dall (mowing, billhook) in Catalan, dalle (scythe) in Spanish, and dalha (scythe) in Occitan (Languedoc) [source].

The English word dagger, and related words in other languages, such as daga (dagger) in Spanish, and Degen (rapier, épée) in German, might come from the same Celtic roots [source].

Words from the same PIE root include dálkur (spine of a fish, knife, dagger, newspaper column) in Icelandic, dilgus (prickly) in Lithuanian, falce (scythe, sickle) in Italian, and falcate (shaped like a sickle) and falcifer (sickle-bearing, holding a scythe) in English [source].

More about words for Pins and Needles in Celtic languages.

You can find more connections between Celtic languages 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 – Swampy Cauldrons

In this episode we discover Celtic roots of the name Paris.

Pont des Arts, île de la Cité

Paris is the capital of France and the centre of the Île-de-France or Paris Region. From about 250 BC, the area, particularly the Île de la Cité (see above), an island on the River Seine, was home to the Parisioi, part of the Gaulish Senones tribe.

After the Romans conquered the area in 52 BC, they set up a town on the Left Bank of the Seine which they called Lutetia Parisiorum (“Lutetia of the Parīsiī”). This later became Parisius, and eventually Paris [source].

The Gaulish name of the tribe, Parisioi, which was Latinized as Parīsiī, possibly comes from the Gaulish word *parios (cauldron), from Proto-Celtic *kʷaryos (cauldron) from the PIE *kʷer- (to do, make, build) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • coire [ˈkɛɾʲə] = large pot, cauldron, boiler in Irish
  • coire [kɔrʲə] = kettle, corrie, cauldron in Scottish Gaelic
  • coirrey = cauldron, boiler, maelstrom in Manx
  • pair [ˈpai̯r] = cauldron, large pot, boiler in Welsh
  • per [ˈpeːr] = cauldron in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic roots, via Gaulish and Latin, include paiolo (copper cooking pot, cauldron) in Italian, perol (cauldron) in Catalan, perol (cauldron) in Spanish, and pairòl [pai̯ˈɾɔl] (kettle) in Occitan (Languedocien) [source].

Words from the same PIE root include Britain, Brittany and karma in English, cruth [kɾˠʊ(h)] (shape, appearance, state) in Irish, pryd [prɨːd] (sight, appearance, aspect) in Welsh, and काम [kɑːm] (work, task, job, function) in Hindi [source].

Britain and Brittany come from Middle English Britayne/Breteyn (Britain, Brittany), from Anglo-Norman Bretai(g)ne (Britain, Brittany), from Latin Brit(t)ānnia ([Great] Britain, [Roman province of] Britannia), from Βρεττανία (Brettaníā – Brittania, Great Britain), ultimately from Proto-Brythonic *Pritanī (Briton(s)), from Proto-Celtic *Kʷritanī/*Kʷritenī, from the PIE *kʷer- (to do, make, build) [source].

So the name Paris has Celtic roots. How about Lutetia? That comes from Gaulish *lutos (swamp), from Proto-Celtic *lutā (dirt, mud), from PIE *lew- (dirt, mud), which is also the root of lutulent (pertaining to mud, muddy) in English, and lodo (mud, muck, mire) in Spanish [source].

More about words for Cauldrons and Kettles and related things in Celtic languages.

You can find more connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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Adventures in Etymology – Procrastination

In this Adventure in Etymology we’re looking into the origins of the word procrastination, unless I start procrastinating, as often happens.

Procrastination image

Procrastination [pɹəʊˌkɹæs.tɪˈneɪ.ʃən] is:

  • The act of postponing, delaying or putting off, especially habitually or intentionally.

It comes from Middle French procrastination, from Latin prōcrāstinātiō (procrastination), from prōcrāstinō (to procrastinate), from prō (for, before) and crāstinus (of tomorrow), from crās (tomorrow) [source]

Words from the same roots include craje [ˈkraj(ə)] (tomorrow) in Neapolitan, cras [kras] (tomorrow) in Sardinian, and the obsolete English word crastin (the day after, the morrow) [source].

An antonym of procrastination is precrastination (the completion of a task too quickly or too early for the optimal outcome; the compulsion to act in this way) [source].

If you’re a chronic procrastinator, as I am, you might even perendinate (to procrastinate for a long time, especially two days), from Latin perendinare (to defer until the day after tomorrow) [source].

Incidentally, while procrastination is often seen as negative habit, it can also help you to prioritise aspects of your life that bring joy, according to an article in MedicalNewsToday.

So, procrastinate now! Or maybe later.

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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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.