Today we’re looking into the origins of the word dust.
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].
Today we’re looking into the strange and unusual origins of the word bizarre.
Bizarre [bɪˈzɑː/bəˈzɑɹ] means:
markedly unusual in appearance, style, or general character and often involving incongruous or unexpected elements
outrageously or whimsically strange
It comes from the French bizarre [bi.zaʁ] (odd, peculiar, bizarre), either from the Basque bizar [bis̻ar] (beard), or from the Italian bizzarro [bidˈd͡zar.ro] (odd, queer, eccentric, bizarre, weird, frisky), possibly from bizza (tantrum), from the German beißen [ˈbaɪ̯sən] (to bite) [source].
In French backslang (Verlan), bizarre becomes zarbi [source] and features in the expression On est tous un peu zarbi(tes) (We’re all a little freaky), or as they as in northern England, There’s nowt so queer as folk [source].
Today we’re delving into the secret and mysterious origins of the word rune.
Rune [ɹuːn] means:
any of the characters of certain ancient alphabets of Germanic languages, esp. of Scandinavia and Britain, from about the 3rd to 13th centuries.
something written or inscribed in such characters.
something secret or mysterious.
It comes from Old Norse rún (secret, rune), from Proto-Norse ᚱᚢᚾᛟ [ˈruː.noː] (runo – secret, mystery, rune, inscription, message), from Proto-Germanic *rūnō [ˈruː.nɔː] (secret, mystery, rune), possibly from Proto-Celtic *rūnā (secret, mystery) [source].
Words for runes in Germanic languages come from the same Proto-Germanic root, including rune [ˈrynə] in Dutch, rune [rʉːnə] Norwegian, and runa in Swedish [source].
Words from the same Proto-Celtic root include rún (mystery, secret, intention, purpose, love, affection) in Irish, and rhin (secret, mystery, enchantment, virute, occult) in Welsh [source].
In Irish a rún is used as a term of affection meaning “my dear/darling”. It appears in the traditional song Siúil a Rún:
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.
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].
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].
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].
In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re looking at the origins of the word companion.
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].
In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re telling tales about the origins of the word tale.
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
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].
In today’s Adventure in Etymology we look into the origins of the word budget and find out how it’s connected to words for bags and bellies and bulges.
A budget [ˈbʌdʒ.ɪt] is:
The amount of money or resources earmarked for a particular institution, activity or timeframe.
An itemized summary of intended expenditure; usually coupled with expected revenue.
A wallet, purse or bag. (obsolete)
It comes from the Middle English bouget/bo(w)gett(e) (leather pouch), from the Old French bougette [bu.ʒɛt] (purse for carrying coins) a diminutive of bouge (sack, purse, small bag), from the Latin bulga [ˈbul.ɡa] (knapsack, wallet, satchel, purse, womb), from the Gaulish bolgā (sack, bag, stomach), from the Proto-Celtic *bolgos (sack, bag, stomach), from the PIE *bʰólǵʰ-o-s (skin bag, bolster), from *bʰelǵʰ- (to swell) [source].
Some words from the same Proto-Celtic root include bolg [ˈbˠɔlˠəɡ] (belly, stomach, bag, bulge, bellows) in Irish, bol [bɔl] (belly, stomach, bowels, womb) in Welsh, and bolgh (breach, gap, opening) in Cornish [source]. See also Celtiadur.
Words from the same Latin root (bulga) include bouge [buʒ] (hovel, dive, bulge, protuberance) in French, bolgia (pit, bedlam, chaos) in Italian, and the English words bulge and budge [source].
The name Belgium comes ultimately from the PIE root *bʰelǵʰ- (to swell), via the Latin Belgae (an Iron-Age tribe that lived between the Seine and Rhine rivers), and the Proto-Celtic *belg-/*bolg- (to swell (with anger)) [source].
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.
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.
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].
laughable or amusing through foolishness or a foolish appearance
weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish
absurd; ridiculous; irrational
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].