Adventures in Etymology – Rubble

There’s some building work going on at my house, so in this Adventure we’re digging into the origins of the word rubble.

Rubble

Rubble [ˈɹʌb.əl] is:

  • the broken remains of an object, usually rock or masonry
  • rough, irregular stones broken from larger masses, esp. waste fragments from the demolition of a building, etc.

It comes from the Middle English rouble/rubel/robel, from the Anglo-Norman *robel (bits of broken stone), possibly from the Old Norse rubba (to huddle, crowd together, heap up), from the Proto-Germanic *rubbōną (to rub, scrape) [source].

It is probably related to the word rubbish (refuse, waste, garbage, junk, trash), which was robous (rubbish, buidling rubble) in Middle English [source]. The word rub possibly comes from the same roots as well [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 – Hallow

As it’s near the end of October, in this Adventure in Etymology we’re investigating the origins of the word hallow, as in Halloween.

Halloween in Hallow

Hallow [ˈhæləʊ / ˈhæloʊ] is an old word that means:

  • A saint; a holy person; an apostle.
  • (plural) The relics or shrines of saints or non-Christian gods.

It comes from the Middle English halwe (saint, holy thing, shrine), from the Old English hālga (saint), from the Proto-Germanic *hailagô (holy person), from *hailagaz (holy, sacred), rom *hailaz (whole, intact, hale, healthy), from the PIE *kóylos (healthy, whole) [source].

The word Halloween comes from the Scots Hallow evin/even, from Allhallow evin, from Allhallow (all the saints) and evin (evening) [source].

English words from the same roots include holy, hale (healthy, sound, robust), as in hale and hearty, hail (to greet, salute, call) and whole [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 – Spell

Today we’re telling tales about the origins of the word spell.

Spell

Spell [spɛl] means:

  • Words or a formula supposed to have magical powers.
  • A magical effect or influence induced by an incantation or formula
  • To put under the influence of a spell, to affect by a spell, to bewitch, fascinate, charm

Spell used to mean speech or discourse. It comes from the Middle English spel(l) (story, tale, narrative, report), from the Old English spell (news, story, prose), from the Proto-Germanic spellą (news, message, tale, story, legend),from the PIE *spel- (to tell) or from *bʰel- (to speak, sound) [source].

Words from the same roots include gospel and byspel (an example — rare) in English; spjall (talk, gossip) and spjalla (to chat, converse) in Icelandic; and fjalë (word) in Albanian [source].

The word spell (to be able to write or say the letters that form words), also comes from the same root, via the Middle English spellen (to mean, signify, interpret, to spell out letters), the Old French espeler (to call, cry out, shout, explain, tell), the Frankish *spelôn, and the Proto-Germanic *spellōną (to speak) [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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Celtic Pathways – Step

In this episode we are tracking the origins of the word step.

Doors Open Day 2018 - McEwan Hall 017

The Proto-Celtic word for step is *kanxsman. It comes from the Proto-Celtic *kengeti (to step), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)keng- (to limp, walk lamely) [source].

Descendants in the Celtic languages include:

  • céim [ceːmʲ] = step, degree, rank, pass, ravine, difficulty in Irish
  • ceum [kʲeːm] = step, footstep, pace, tread, path, degree, measure in Scottish Gaelic
  • keim = phase, step, degree, stage, standard, stile, grade in Manx
  • cam = step, stride, pace, leap, foot-fall, footprint, trace, progress in Welsh
  • kamm = pace, step, track in Cornish
  • kamm = pace, walk, tread, (foot)step in Breton

In Gaulish step was *kamman, which was borrowed into Latin as cammīnus (way), and became camino (track, path, road, way, route, journey) and caminar (to walk, stroll, travel) in Spanish, caminho (way, road, path) in Portugese, cammino (walk, path, way) and camminare (to walk, work (function)) in Italian, and chemin (path, way, pathway) in French [source].

The Proto-Celtic word *kengets (warrior) comes from the same PIE root, and became cing [kʲiŋʲɡʲ] (warrior, champion, hero), and cingid [kʲiŋʲɡʲiðʲ] (to step, proceed, go) in Old Irish, cinn [ciːnʲ] (to surpass, overcome, be too much for) in modern Irish, and cing [kʲiŋʲgʲ] (warrior, champion) in Scottish Gaelic. The word king in English comes from a different root – from the Proto-Germanic *kuningaz (king) [source].

The English word shank (the part of the leg between the knee and the ankle) also comes from the same PIE root, via the Old English sċanca [ˈʃɑn.kɑ] (leg) and the Proto-Germanic *skankô [ˈskɑŋ.kɔːː] (that which is bent, shank, thigh) [source].

More details about these words on Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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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Celtic Pathways – Iron

In this episode we are digging up the origins of the word iron.

iron fence

The Proto-Celtic word for iron is *īsarnom. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁ēsh₂r̥no- (bloody, red), from *h₁ésh₂r̥ (blood) [source].

Descendants in the Celtic languages include:

  • iarann [ˈiəɾˠən̪ˠ] = iron in Irish
  • iarann [iər̪ˠən̪ˠ] = iron, (metal) blade, day’s worth cutting peat (for two) in Scottish Gaelic
  • yiarn = iron; tool, scythe, blade; dough (money); tip (gratuity) in Manx
  • haearn = iron, iron bar, hardness, strength, resoluteness, hard, strong, unyielding in Welsh
  • horn = iron in Cornish
  • houarn [ˈhuː.arn] = iron, flat iron; horseshoe in Breton

Words for iron in Germanic languages come from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Proto-Germanic *īsarną (iron). They include iron in English, ijzer in Dutch, Eisen in German, järn in Swedish, and jern in Danish [source].

Words from the same PIE roots, include արյուն (aryun – blood, slaughter) in Armenian, asinis (blood, temperament, origin) in Latvian [source], words for blood in Romance languages [source], and words for sister in most European languages [source].

More details about these words on Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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 – Rabbit 🐇

Today we are burrowing into the origins of the word rabbit.

Easter Bunny

A rabbit [ˈɹæbɪt] is:

  • a mammal of the family Leporidae, with long ears, long hind legs and a short, fluffy tail.

It comes from the Middle English rabet(te) (young rabbit), from the Middle French *robotte/rabotte or the Anglo-Latin rabettus, from the Old French rabotte, probably from the Middle Dutch / West Flemish robbe (rabbit, seal). Beyond that its origins are uncertain [source].

Until the 19th century a rabbit was a young rabbit, while an adult rabbit was con(e)y (rabbit, hyrax), which comes from the Anglo-Norman conis (rabbits), from the Vulgar Latin *cuniclus (rabbit), from the Latin cuniculus (rabbit), from the Ancient Greek κύνικλος (kúniklos – rabbit), which probably comes from Iberian or Celtiberian [source].

Words from the same root include cuniculus (a burrow or low underground passage) in Englsh, coniglio (rabbit), cunicolo (tunnel, burrow, wormhole) in Italian, conejo (rabbit) in Spanish, and cwningen (rabbit, hyrax) in Welsh [source].

In Old English the word for rabbit, and hare, was hara [ˈhɑ.rɑ], which is the root of the word hare, and comes from the Proto-Germanic *hasô [ˈxɑ.sɔːː] (hare), from the Proto-Indo-European *ḱeh₂s- (grey) [source].

Another word for rabbit is bunny, which probably comes from the Scots bun(n) (the tail of a rabbit or hare), from the Scottish Gaelic bun (base, bottom, source, butt, stump), from the Old Irish bun (base, butt, foot), from the Proto-Celtic *bonus (foundation, base, butt) [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 – Hat

Chapeaux

Today we are uncovering the origins of the word hat.

A hat [hæt / hat] is:

  • a covering for the head, often in the approximate form of a cone, dome or cylinder closed at its top end, and sometimes having a brim and other decoration
  • a particular role or capacity that a person might fill.

It comes from the Middle English hat [hat] (hat, cap, helmet), from the Old English hæt(t) (hat, head-covering), from the Proto-Germanic *hattuz [ˈxɑt.tuz] (hat), from the Proto-Indo-European *kadʰnú-, from *kadʰ- (to guard, cover, protect, care for) [source].

Words from the same root include: hood, heed in English, hat (hat) in Danish, hatta (hat) and hätta (bonnet, hood) in Swedish, hattu (hat, cap) in Finnish, hoed (hat, lid) in Dutch, Hut (hat, cap, protection, keeping) in German, and cadw (to keep, guard, defend, save) in Welsh [source].

There are quite a few idioms and sayings related to hats, including:

  • at the drop of a hat = (to do sth) without any hesitation, instantly. For example, I can talk about language and linguistics at the drop of a hat.
  • to eat one’s hat = a humorous action that one will allegedly take place if something very unlikely happens. For example, if a million people listen to this podcast, I’ll eat my hat.
  • old hat = something very common or out of date.
  • to pass the hat = to ask for money, solicit donations or contributions
  • to keep sth under one’s hat = to keep sth secret

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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Celtic Pathways – Servants

In this episode we’re looking at words for servants and related people.

Tour Scotland March Horse Ploughing

The Proto-Celtic word *ambaxtos means servant and comes from *ambi- (around),‎ *ageti (to drive) and‎ *-os, from the Proto-Indo-European word *h₂m̥bʰi-h₂eǵ- (drive around) [source].

It became ambaxtos (vassal, high-ranking servant) in Gaulish, amaeth [ˈameɨ̯θ / ˈamei̯θ] (ploughman, husbandman, farmer, agriculture) in Welsh, ammeth (agriculture, farming) in Cornish, amhas (hireling, servant, mercenary, hooligan) in Irish, amhas [au.əs] (savage, wild person, madman) in Scottish Gaelic [source].

The English word amassador comes from the same root, via the Middle English ambassadore from the Anglo-Norman ambassadeur (ambassador), from the Old Italian ambassadore, from the Old Occitan ambaisador (ambassador), from ambaissa (service, mission, errand), from the Medieval Latin ambasiator (ambassador), from the Gothic 𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌱𐌰𐌷𐍄𐌹 (andbahti – service, function), from the Proto-Germanic *ambahtaz [ˈɑm.bɑx.tɑz] (servant), from the Gaulish *ambaxtos [source].

The word embassy comes from the same Gaulish word, via a similarly convoluted etymology [source], as does ambacht [ˈɑmbɑxt] (craft, craftmanship, trade) in Dutch, ambátt [ˈam.pauht] (female slave, bondwoman, handmaid) in Icelandic, and ammatti [ˈɑmːɑt̪ːi] (profession, vocation, occupation) in Finnish [source].

Another Proto-Celtic word for servant is *wastos which possibly comes from the Proto-Indo-European word *upo-sth₂-o-s (standing beneath) [source].

Related words in Celtic languages include: *wassos (young man, squire) in Gaulish, gwas [ɡwaːs] (servant, lad, boy) in Welsh, gwas (chap, fellow, guy, servant) in Cornish, gwas (man, husband, servant, employee) in Breton, and foss (attendant, man-servant, servant) in Old Irish [source].

The English word vassal comes from the same Celtic roots, via the Old French vassal, the Medieval Latin vassallus (manservant, domestic, retainer), from the Latin vassus (servant) from the Gaulish *wassos [source].

More details about these words on Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth.

I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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 – Sneeze

Today we’re investigating the origins of the word sneeze.

Sneeze

Sneeze [sniːz] means:

  • to emit air or breath suddenly, forcibly, and audibly through the nose and mouth by involuntary, spasmodic action.

It comes from the Middle English snesen [ˈsneːzən] (to sneeze), from fnesen [ˈfneːzən] (to sneeze) from the Old English fnēosan [ˈfne͜oː.zɑn] (to sneeze), from the Proto-Germanic *fneusaną [ɸneu̯.sɑ.nɑ̃] (to sneeze), from the Proto-Indo-European *pnew- (to pant, breathe, snort, sneeze) [source].

A related word in Middle English was fnesy [fneːziː] (having a tendency to wheeze or sneeze) [source]. Other words that began with fn in Middle Engilsh included fnoren and fnorten which became snore and snort in Modern English.

An old word for to sneeze in English was neeze, which is or was used in some dialects in the UK. It came from the Middle English nesen (to sneeze), from the Old English *hnēosan (to sneeze), from the Proto-Germanic *hneusaną (to sneeze), from the PIE *(s)knus- (to sneeze) and *pnew- (to pant, breathe) [source].

Words from the PIE root *pnew- include pneumatic and pneumonia in English, pneu (tyre/tire) in French, and πνέω [ˈpne.o] (to blow) in Greek [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 – Riddles

Today we’re uncovering the mysterious and puzzling origins of the word riddle.

Puzzled

A riddle [ˈɹɪdəl] is:

  • A verbal puzzle, mystery, or other problem of an intellectual nature.

To riddle is:

  • To speak ambiguously or enigmatically.
  • To solve, answer, or explicate a riddle or question.

It comes from the Middle English rēdels (riddle, problem, enigma), from the Old English rǣdels [ˈræː.deɫs] (guess, conjecture, counsel, debate, enigma, riddle), from the Proto-West-Germanic *rādislī (advice, guess, riddle, puzzle), from *rādan (to advise, guess, interpret), from the Proto-Germanic *rēdaną [ˈrɛː.ðɑ.nɑ̃] (to decide, advise), from the PIE *Hreh₁dʰ- (to think, arrange) [source].

The English word read comes from the Germanic root, as do the Dutch words raadsel (riddle, mystery) and raden (to guess), the German words Rätsel (riddle, puzzle, mystery) and raten (to advise, recommend, guess), and the Swedish word råda (to advise, rule, reign, occur, exist) [source].

The word riddle, as in a kind of sieve, usually made of wire, comes from different roots: from the Middle English ridel (coarse sieve), from the Old English hriddel (sieve), from the Proto-West Germanic *hrīdrā (sieve), from the Proto-Germanic *hrīdrǭ [ˈxriːð.rɔ̃ː] (sieve), from *hrid- (to shake), ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European *krey- (to sift, separate, divide) [source].

Words from the same roots include crime, crisis, critic and secret in English, Reiter [ˈʁaɪ̯tɐ] (rider, mounted man-at-arms) in German, and crynu (to tremble, quake, shiver) and crwydr (sieve, winnowing-fan, wandering, roaming) in Welsh [source].

More details about sieve-related words in Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

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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