Adventures in Etymology – Dust

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

Dust Storm 1585 and Milwaukee and Mailbox in Road

dust [dʌst] is:

  • earth or other matter in fine, dry particles.
  • a cloud of finely powdered earth or other matter in the air.
  • to wipe the dust from
  • to sprinkle with a powder or dust

It comes from the Middle English d(o)ust [du(ː)st] (dust, powder, dirt, grit), from the Old English dūst [duːst] (dust, powder), from the Proto-Germanic *dunstą [ˈdun.stɑ̃] (mist, haze, dust), from the Proto-Indo-European *dʰewh₂- (smoke, mist, haze) [source].

English words from the same PIE root include dew, dusk and dye (via Proto-Germanic), down (hill) and dune (via Proto-Celtic), and fume (via Latin) [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 wrote a song about dust this week, which goes something like this:

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 – New Year

As today is New Year’s Day, I decided to look at the origins of the words new and year. Happy New Year, by the way.

Happy New Year in various languages

New [njuː/nu] means:

  • recently made, or created
  • additional; recently discovered

It comes from the Middle English newe [ˈniu̯(ə)] (new), from the Old English nīewe [ˈni͜yː.we] (new), from Proto-Germanic *niwjaz [ˈniu̯.jɑz] (new), from Proto-Indo-European *néwyos (new), from *néwos (new). [source].

Other English words from the same root include innovate, novice and novel [source].

Year [jɪə/jɪɹ] means:

  • the time it takes any astronomical object to complete one revolution of its star

It comes from the Middle English yeer/yere (year), from the Old English ġēar [jæ͜ɑːr] (year), from the Proto-Germanic *jērą [ˈjɛː.rɑ̃] (year), from the Proto-Indo-European *yóh₁r̥ (year) [source].

Words from the same root, via the Latin hōra (hour, time, o’clock, season), include: hora (hour, time, period) in Spanish, ora (hour, time) in Italian, heure (hour, time, o’clock) in French, and hour in English [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.

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Episode 50 – Solstice

As I recorded this episode 21st December, I decided to look at the meanings and origins of some seasonal words.

Solstice [ˈsɒl.stɪs/ˈsɑl.stɪs] – from Old French solstice (solstice), from the Latin sōlstitium ((summer) solstice), from sōl (sun) and sistō (to stand still) [source].

Winter solstice

Sāturnālia [ˈsɒl.stɪs/ˈsɑl.stɪs] – an ancient Roman holiday honouring Saturn, the Roman of fertility and agriculture. It began on 17th December and was originally a one-day celebration. That was extended to three days during the 2nd century BC, and later extended to seven days [source].

During this time work stopped, and businesses, schools and courts were closed. Slaves were given time off and were served by their masters. People wore colourful clothes, decorated their houses with green branches and other things, gave each other gifts, and spent time with their families and friends eating, drinking, singing, making music, gambling and generally having a good time [source].

In Germanic-speaking cultures Yule originally lasted for whole of December and January. After the arrival of Christianity, the 12 days of Christmas became the main focus of the celebrations. The word yule comes from the Middle English yol (Yuletide, Christmas), from the Old English ġēol/ġeōl (Yuletide, Christmas midwinter) [source].

December is the 12th month of the year, but in the Roman calendar it was the tenth month, and the word December comes from the Latin decem (10) [source].

In Irish December is Mí na Nollag, or literally “the month of Christmas” [source]. In Scottish Gaelic it is an Dùbhlachd, which means “the darkening” [source]. In Welsh December is Rhagfyr, which means the “foreshortening”, referring to the short days [source].

Theme tune

Friday Afternoon / Prynhawn Dydd Gwener

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 – Companion

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re looking at the origins of the word companion.

breaking bread

Companion [kəmˈpænjən] is:

  • a person who is frequently in the company of, associates with, or accompanies another:
  • a person employed to accompany, assist, or live with another in the capacity of a helpful friend.

It comes from the Old French compaignon [kumpaˈɲun] (friend, colleague, companion), from the Late Latin compāniō [kɔmˈpäːniɔ] (companion), from com- (with) and‎ pānis (bread) [source].

Compāniō was probably a calque of the Frankish *gahlaibō (messmate), from the Proto-Germanic *ga- (with) and‎ *hlaibaz (bread), from which we get the English words loaf and lord, via the Old English hlāf (bread) and weard (guard) [source].

In Middle English another word for bread was payn, which came from the Old French pain (bread), from the Latin pānis (bread, loaf, food, nourishment), possibly from the PIE *peh₂- (to graze). This became pain (bread stuffed with a filling) in Early Modern English [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.

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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.

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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.

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Adventures in Etymology – Ladder

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re looking at the origins of the word ladder.

ladders.jpg

A ladder [ˈladə/ˈlædɚ] is:

  • a frame, usually portable, of wood, metal, or rope, used for ascent and descent, consisting of two side pieces to which are fastened rungs
  • a series of stages by which one progresses to a better position

It comes from the Middle English ladder/laddre [ˈladər], from the Old English hlǣder [ˈxlæː.der] (ladder), from the Proto-Germanic *hlaidrijō [ˈxlɑi̯.dri.jɔː] (ladder) from the Proto-Indo-European *ḱley- (to lean, slope, incline) [source]

English words from the same PIE root include: climate, client, clinic, decline, incline and lean [source].

Words in Celtic languages meaning left (hand/side) come from the same PIE root, including: clé in Irish, clì in Scottish Gaelic, cledd in Welsh and kleiz in Breton, which also means north [source].

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.

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Adventures in Etymology – Words and Verbs

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we are looking at the origins of the word word [wɜːd/wɝd].

Words in various European languages

A word is:

  • a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word [wurd/wɔrd] (word), from the Old English word [word] (word, speech, verb, news), from the Proto-Germanic *wurdą [ˈwur.ðɑ̃] (word), from the PIE *wr̥dʰh₁om (word) from *werh₁- (to speak, say) [source]

The word verb comes from the same root, via the Middle English verbe [ˈvɛrb(ə)] (verb), from the Old French verbe (word, phrasing), from the Latin verbum [ˈu̯er.bum] (word, proverb, verb), from the Proto-Italic *werβom (word) [source].

The word verve [vɜːv/vɝv] (great vitality, enthusiasm, liveliness, sparkle) comes from the same Latin root (verbum), via the French verve [vɛʁv] (witty eloquence), and the Late Latin verva [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.

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Adventures in Etymology – Walls, Whelks and Helicopters

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re finding out what walls, whelks and helicopters have in common.

Hadrian's Wall

A wall [wɔːl/wɔl/wɑl] is:

  • a vertical construction made of stone, brick, wood, etc, with a length and height much greater than its thickness, used to enclose, divide, or support
  • a structure or rampart built to protect and surround a position or place for defensive purposes

[source]

It comes from the Middle English wal (wall), from the Old English weall [wæ͜ɑɫ] (wall), from the Proto-Germanic *wallaz/wallą (wall, rampart, entrenchment), from the Latin vallum (wall, rampart, entrenchment, palisade), from vallus (stake, palisade, point), from the PIE *welH- (to turn, wind) [source]

English words from the same PIE root (via Old English) include walk, wallow, well (source of water, etc), and welk [source].

The word helix also comes from the same PIE root, via the Latin helix (ivy, willow, whorl), and the Ancient Greek ἕλιξ (hélix – spiral) [source], as does the word helicopter, via the French hélicoptère (helicopter), from the Ancient Greek ἕλιξ (hélix) and πτερόν (pterón – feather, wing) [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.

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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.

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