Adventures in Etymology – Secret

Today we’re exploring the origins of the word secret.

Secret

A secret [ˈsiːkɹɪt / ˈsiːkɹət] is:

  • A piece of knowledge that is hidden and intended to be kept hidden.
  • The key or principle by which something is made clear; the knack.
  • Something not understood or known.

It comes from the Middle English secrette (secret), from the Old French secret (secret), from the Latin sēcrētus (put apart, separated, severed), from sēcernō (to separate, set aside), from sē- (aside, by itself) and cernō (to see, discern), from the PIE *krey (to sift, separate, divide) [source].

English words from the same PIE root include: certain, concern, crime, crisis, critic, discreet and hypocrisy [source].

Words in other languages from the same PIE root include: crynu [ˈkrənɨ/ˈkrəni] (to tremble, shiver, shudder) in Welsh, κρίνω [ˈkɾi.no] (to judge, assess, decide) in Greek, cernere [ˈt͡ʃɛr.ne.re] to separate, distinguish, choose) in Italian, and kraj [kraj] (country, land, border) in Polish [source].

In Old English a secret was a dēagol [ˈdæ͜ɑː.ɣol], which also meant hidden, obscure or (poetically) dark, which became diȝel in Middle English. It comes from the Proto-West Germanic *daugul (hidden, secret) [source].

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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Aventure in Etymology – Butter

Today we’re looking into the origins of the word butter.

Butter

Butter [ˈbʌtə / ˈbʌɾɚ] is:

  • A soft, fatty foodstuff made by churning the cream of milk (generally cow’s milk)
  • Any of various foodstuffs made from other foods or oils, similar in consistency to, eaten like or intended as a substitute for butter, such as peanut butter

It comes from the Middle English buter [ˈbutər] (butter), or from the Old English butere [ˈbu.te.re] (butter), from the Proto-West-Germanic *buterā (butter), from the Latin būtȳrum [buːˈtyː.rum] (butter, butter-like chemicals), from the Ancient Greek βούτῡρον [bǔː.tyː.ron] (butter), from βοῦς [bûːs] (cow, ox, cattle, shield) and τυρός [tyː.rós] (cheese), so in Ancient Greek, butter was literally “cow cheese” [source].

The Ancient Greek word βοῦς [bûːs] (cow, ox) comes from the Proto-Hellenic *gʷous (cow, cattle), from the Proto-Indo-European *gʷṓws (cattle). English words from the same roots include beef, bovine, bucolic, buffalo, cow, boustrophedon (writing in lines alternating from left to right and right to left, or lit. “as the ox turns”) [source].

The word boustrophedon is discussed in this Omniglot blog post.

The Ancient Greek word τυρός [tyː.rós] (cheese) comes from the Proto-Hellenic *tūrós (cheese), from the Proto-Indo-European *tewh₂- (to swell). English words from the same roots include thumb, truffle, tuber, tumor and tyromancy (divination by studying the coagulation of cheese) [source].

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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Adventures in Etymology – Circus

Today we’re looking into the origins of the word circus.

la magie du cirque ; de la musique, de la lumière , des numéros sensationnels , de l'émotion

A circus [ˈsɜːkəs/ˈsɝkəs] is:

  • A traveling company of performers that may include acrobats, clowns, trained animals, and other novelty acts, that gives shows usually in a circular tent.
  • A round open space in a town or city where multiple streets meet.
  • A spectacle; a noisy fuss; a chaotic and/or crowded place.

It comes from the Latin circus [ˈkɪrkʊs̠] (orbit, circle, ring, racecourse, space where games are held), or from the Ancient Greek κίρκος [ˈkir.kos] (hawk, falcon, wolf, circle, ring, racecourse), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (to turn, bend) [source].

Some English words from the same PIE root include: corona, crisp, crest, cross, crown, curb, curtain, curve, ring and rink, [source].

In Old English the word for circus was hringsetl [ˈr̥iŋɡˌsetl], from hring (ring) and setl (residence, seat, bench, throne). This was replaced by circus in about the 14th century [source].

At first circus referred to ancient Roman ampitheatres or buildings used for chariot races. By the early 18th century it meant buildings arranged in a ring or a circular road, as in Piccadilly Circus, and by the late 18th century it refered to an arena for performances of acrobatics, horsemanship etc,and later extented to refer to the performers and their performance [source].

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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Adventures in Etymology – Quiet 🤫

Today we’re looking into the origins of the word quiet.

Quietness

Quiet [ˈkwaɪ.ɪt / ˈkwaɪ.ət] means:

  • making little or no noise or sound
  • free or comparatively free of noise
  • silent
  • restrained in speech or manner
  • free from disturbance or tumult; peaceful

It comes from the Middle English quiete (peace, rest, gentleness), from the Old French quiet(e) (tranquil, calm), from the Latin quiētus (at rest, quiet, peaceful), from quiēscō (I rest, sleep, repose), from quiēs (rest, repose, quiet) from the PIE *kʷyeh₁- (to rest; peace) [source].

English words from the same Latin root include acquiesce (to rest satisfied, to assent to), coy (bashful, shy, retiring), quit (to abandon, leave), requiem (a mass or piece of music to honour a dead person) and tranquil (calm, peaceful) [source].

The English word while comes from the same PIE root, via the Old English hwīl (while, period of time), the Proto-West Germanic *hwīlu (period of rest, pause, time, while), and the Proto-Germanic *hwīlō (time, while, pause) [source].

Other words from the same PIE root include wijl [ˈʋɛi̯l] (when, while), in Dutch, Weile [ˈvaɪ̯lə] (while), in German, hvile [ˈviːlə] (rest, repose, to rest) in Danish and Norwegian, chwila [ˈxfi.la] (moment, instant) in Polish and хвилина [xʋeˈɫɪnɐ] (minute) in Ukrainian [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

By the way, I wrote a new song this week called Quiet Please

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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Adventures in Etymology – Nepotism

Today we’re looking into the origins of the word nepotism.

Nepotism

Nepotism [ˈnɛp.ə.tɪ.zəm] is:

  • The favoring of relatives or personal friends because of their relationship rather than because of their abilities.
  • Patronage bestowed or favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics.

It comes from the French népotisme [ne.pɔ.tism] (nepotism), from the Italian nepotismo [ne.poˈti.zmo] (nepotism) from nepote/nipote (grandchild, nephew, niece), from the Latin nepōs (grandchild, nephew, niece, descendent), from the Proto-Italic *nepōts (grandson, nephew), from PIE *népōts (grandson, descendent) [source].

Apparently during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, popes liked to appoint relatives (especially nephews – a euphemism for their natural sons) as cardinals, and this practice became known as nepotism [source].

The word nephew comes from the same PIE root, via the Middle English nevew/neveu (nephew, grandson), the Old French neveu (nephew), and the Latin nepōs (grandson, granddaughter, nephew, niece, descendent) [source].

It displaced or absorbed the Middle English word neve [ˈnɛːv(ə)] (nephew), which came from the Old English nefa [ˈne.fɑ] (nephew, grandson, stepson), from the Proto-Germanic *nefô [ˈne.ɸɔːː] (nephew, grandson), from the PIE *népōts [source].

Incidentally, the word knave (a tricky, deceitful fellow) sounds similar but comes from a different root: from the Middle English knave/knafe [ˈknaːv(ə)] (son, boy, lad, servant, peasant), from the Old English cnafa [ˈknɑ.fɑ] (boy, lad, young man), from the Proto-Germanic *knabō/*knappō (boy), which is of unknown origin [source].

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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Adventures of Etymology – Pique

Today we’re exploring the origins of the word pique.

aiiiiiiiiie ça-pique

Pique [piːk / pik] means:

  • to affect with sharp irritation and resentment, especially by some wound to pride
  • to wound (the pride, vanity, etc.)
  • to excite (interest, curiosity, etc.)
  • a feeling of irritation or resentment

It comes from the French piquer (to prick, sting, annoy, get angry, provoke), from the Old French piquer (to pierce with the tip of a sword), from the Vulgar Latin *pīccāre (to sting, strike, puncture), which is either onomatopoeic, or from the Frankish *pikkōn (to peck, strike), from the Proto-Germanic *pikkōną (to knock, peck, pick, prick) [source].

English words from the same Proto-Germanic root include pick and pitch. The pie in magpie possibly comes from the same root, via the Old French pie (magpie), and the Latin pīca (magpie) [source].

The Latin word pīca is the root of such words as the Spanish pica (pike, lance, pick, spade ♠), and picar (to itch, sting, chop, bite), and the Italian pica (magpie) [source].

Incidentally, the name of the Pokemon character Pikachu has nothing to do with stings or magpies. Instead it comes from the Japanese onomatopoeic word ピカピカ (pikapika – glittery, sparkly), and チューチュー (chūchū – squeak, cheep, peep, slurp, mouse) [source].

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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Adventures in Etymology – Anniversary

Today we’re looking into the origins of the word anniversary, as it happens to be my birthday, or the anniversary of my birth, and anniversary is etymologically more interesting than birthday.

Thames Festival fireworks

An anniversary [ˌænɪˈvɜːs(ə)ɹi / ˌænəˈvɝs(ə)ɹi] is:

  • the yearly recurrence of the date of a past event.
  • the celebration or commemoration of such a date.
  • returning or recurring each year; annual.

It comes from the Medieval Latin anniversāria (diēs) / anniversārium, from the Latin anniversārius (annual, yearly), from annus (year, time, season), and vertere (to turn), so an anniversary marks the turning of the year or more poetically, a trip round the sun [source].

The origins of the word annus are uncertain, but we know that vertere comes from vertō (I turn, revolve), from the Proto-Italic *wertō (turn), from the PIE *wértti (to be turning around), from *wert- (to turn, rotate). [source].

Words from the same root include worth, versus, vertigo and vortex in English, worden [ˈʋɔrdə(n)] (to become, get, grow, turn) in Dutch, werden [ˈveːrdən] (will, to be going) in German and verter [beɾˈteɾ] (to pour, spill, shed) in Spanish [source].

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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Adventures in Etymology – Fool

As yesterday was April Fools’ Day, today we’re looking into the origins of the word fool.

walking fool

A fool [fuːl] is:

  • a person with poor judgment or little intelligence.
  • a professional jester, formerly kept by a person of royal or noble rank for amusement.
  • a person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing or acting silly or stupid.
  • a type of dessert made of puréed fruit and custard or cream.

It comes from the Middle English fole [foːl] (fool, idiot, moron), from the Old French fol [ˈfɔl] (mad, insane, foolish, silly), from the Latin follis [ˈfol.lis] (bellows, purse, sack, belly), from the PIE *bʰelǵʰ- (bag, pillow, paunch), from *bʰel- (to swell, blow, inflate, burst) [source].

Some words in Celtic languages comes from the same PIE root, via the Proto-Celtic *bolgos (sack, bag, stomach). These include bol [bɔl] (stomach) in Welsh, bolg [ˈbˠɔlˠəɡ] (belly, stomach, bulge, bag) in Irish, and bolgan [bɔl̪ˠɔgan] (light bulb, (plant) bulb) in Scottish Gaelic [source]. More details of these words is available on my Celtiadur blog.

English words from the same PIE root include bellows, belly, and bolster, via Old English and Proto-Germanic, billow via Old Norse and Proto-Germanic, foolish and folly via Old French and Latin [source], and bulge, budge and budget via Old French, Latin and Gaulish [source].

The first part of the word foolhardy (recklessly or thoughtlessly bold; foolishly rash or venturesome) comes from the same root as fool, while hardy comes from the Old French hardi (durable, hardy, tough), from the Frankish *hartjan, from the Proto-Germanic *harduz [ˈxɑr.ðuz] (hard, brave), from the PIE *kert-/*kret- (strong, powerful), from which part of the word democratic originates [source].

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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Adventures in Etymology – Salt

Today we’re looking into the origins of the word salt.

Sea Salt

Salt [sɒlt / sɔlt / sɑlt] is:

  • a white powder or colourless crystalline solid, consisting mainly of sodium chloride and used for seasoning and preserving food

It comes from the Middle English salt(e) / se(a)lt [salt/sɛlt] (salt), from the Old English sealta [sæ͜ɑɫt] (salt, salty, salted), from the Proto-West-Germaic *salt (salty), from the Proto-Germanic *saltaz [ˈsɑl.tɑz] (salty), from *saltaną [ˈsɑl.tɑ.nɑ̃] (to salt, pickle) from the PIE *seh₂l- (salt) [source].

In most modern Indo-European languages, words for salt begin with an s and contain an l, including sel in French, sal in Catalan, Spanish, Galician, Portuguese and Spanish, sollan in Manx, and sól [sul] in Polish. [source].

Exceptions include sare [ˈsa.re] in Romanian, zout [zɑu̯t] in Dutch, αλάτι [aˈlati] in Greek, աղ [ɑʁ] in Armenian, halen in Welsh, and holen in Cornish and Breton [source].

The word salary, comes from the same PIE root, via Middle English salarie, Old French salaire and the Latin salārium (salary), from salārius (related to salt), from sal (salt). It is thought that salārium was an abbreviation of salārium argentum (salt money), as Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt. However, there is no evidence for this [source].

Other English words from the same PIE root include salad, salami, saline, salsa, sauce, sausage, silt and halogen [source].

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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Adventures in Etymology – Knot

Today we’re untangling the origins of the word knot 🪢.

knots

A knot [nɒt/nɑt] is:

  • any of various fastenings formed by looping and tying a piece of rope, cord, etc, in upon itself, to another piece of rope, or to another object
  • a tangle
  • a small cluster or huddled group, e.g. ‘a knot of people’

It comes from the Middle English knotte [ˈknɔt(ə)] (knot, tie, binding), from the Old English cnotta [ˈknot.tɑ] (knot), from the Proto-Germaic *knuttô [ˈknut.tɔːː] (knot), from the PIE *gnod- (to bind) [source].

The Latin word nōdus (knot, knob, bond) comes from the same PIE root, and is the root of the English words such as noose, node and nodule [source].

The English word knit comes from the same PIE root, via Old English and Proto-Germanic, as does the name Canute, via the Old Norse Knútr, probably from the Old Norse word knútr (knot) [source].

A knot is also a unit of speed used by ships and aircraft that equal one nautical mile (1.85 km) per hour. This usage comes from a method of calculating the speed of a ship in use since at least the 16th century with a long rope with knots are regular intervals [More details].

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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