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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Adventures in Etymology – Daff

Today we’re playing with the word daff.

Daff

A Daff [dæf] is:

  • A fool, idiot or blockhead

It comes from the Middle English daf(fe) (fool, idiot), from the Old Norse daufr (deaf, stupid), from the Proto-Germanic *daubaz [ˈdɑu̯.βɑz] (stunned, deaf), from the PIE *dʰewbʰ- (hazy, unclear, dark, smoke, obscure) [source].

In northern dialects of English and in Scots, daff is a verb that means to be foolish, play, make sport or frolic. It comes from the same root as the noun daff, via the Middle English daffen (to render foolish) [source].

Words from the same PIE root include deaf and dumb in English; and words for black in Celtic languages, such as du [dɨː/diː] in Welsh, and dubh [d̪ˠʊvˠ/d̪ˠʊw/duh] in Irish and Scottish Gaelic [source].

Some words derived from daff include bedaff (to befool, make a fool of, confound), daffen (to make a daff, stun), daffish (stupid, silly), and daffy (somewhat mad or eccentric). Only the last one is much used these days. The others are obsolete or used only in some English dialects, and in Scots [source].

Daff is not related to daft (foolish, silly, stupid), which comes from the Middle English dafte/defte (gentle, humble, modest, awkward, dull), from the Old English dæfte (gentle, meek, mild), from the Proto-West Germanic *daftī (fitting, suitable), from the PIE *dʰh₂ebʰ- (fitting; to fit together) [source].

The English word deft comes from the same PIE root [source], as do words for good in Slavic languages, such as dobrý in Czech and Slovak, and добър [doˈbɤɾ] in Bulgarian [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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Adventures in Etymology – Roof

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

Castell Penrhyn Castle

A roof [ɹuːf / ɹʊf] is:

  • the cover of a building
  • material used for a roof
  • the highest point
  • an upper limit
  • the vaulted upper boundary of the mouth

It comes from the Middle English rof [roːf] (roof, house, top of the mouth), or from the Old English hrōf [xroːf] (roof, the sky or heavens), from the Proto-Germanic *hrōfą (roof), from the Proto-Indo-European *krāpo- (roof), from *krāwə- (to cover, heap) [source].

Words from the same roots include: roef [ruf] (a cabin on a boat) in Dutch, ruf (deckhouse, doghouse) in Danish, rouf [ʁuf] (deckhouse) in French, strop (ceiling) in Croatian, Czech, Polish, Serbian and Slovenian, and the old Russian word строп [strop] (roof, attic, loft) [source].

Incidentally, the Dutch word roef is only used to refer to a cabin on a river boat. A cabin on a big ship is a kajuit the origins of which are uncertain. It possibly comes from the Old French cabane (cabin, hut, shack, shed) and hutte (hut) [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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Adventures in Etymology – Tat

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

Trinkets

tat [tæt] is:

  • cheap, tasteless, useless goods; trinkets.
  • tatty articles or a tatty condition
  • a tangled mass
  • an abbreviation of tattoo

It comes from the Hindi टाट (ṭāṭ – burlap, gunny, hessian, sackcloth, sacking), or from tatty (worn out, shabby, tawdry, unkempt), which comes from tatter (a shred of torn cloth), from tattered (torn, ragged), from the Middle English tater (torn or ragged strips of material hanging from a garment), from the Old Norse tǫturr (tatters, rags) [source].

The word tatty also means potato in parts of northern England and Scotland. It’s a diminutive of potato, which comes from the Spanish patata (potato, piece of rubbish), from the Taíno batata (sweet potato) [source].

Another word for potato is spud [spʌd], which also means a sharp spadelike tool used for rooting or digging out weeds, and comes from the Middle English spudde [spud] (a small or inferior knife), possibly from the Old Norse spjót (spear, lance), from the Proto-Germanic *speutą/speutaz (spear), from the PIE *spewd- (to press; urge; hurry) [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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Adventures in Etymology – Lead

Today we’re delving into the origins of the word lead.

Lead Ingots

lead [lɛd] is:

  • a soft, heavy, metallic element with atomic number 82 found mostly in combination and used especially in alloys, batteries, and shields against sound, vibration, or radiation.
  • a thin strip of metal used to separate lines of type in printing.

It comes from the Middle English le(e)d [lɛːd] (lead, cauldron), from the Old English lēad [læɑːd] (lead), from the Proto-West-Germanic *laud (lead)), from the Gaulish *laudon (lead), from the Proto-Celtic *ɸloudom (iron), from the PIE *plewd- (to fly, flow, run) [source].

Words from the same Proto-West-Germanic root include lood [loːt] (lead, plumb bob) in Dutch, Lot [loːt] (plummet, solder) in German, and lod [lʌð] (plumb bob, fishing weight) in Danish [source].

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root include luaidhe [ˈl̪ˠuːiː/l̪ˠuəjə] (lead) in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, leoaie (lead) in Manx [source].

Words from the same PIE root include float, flow, flood, fleet and Pluto in English, vlotten (to glide, go smoothly) in Dutch, and flotter [flɔ.te] (to float, flutter, wave, mill about) in French [source].

Incidentally, to word lead [liːd], as in to guide or direct, is not related to lead (the metal). It comes from the Middle English leden (to lead, carry, take, put), from the Old English lǣdan (to lead, bring, take, carry, guide), from the Proto-Germanic *laidijaną (to cause one to go, lead), causative of the Proto-Germanic *līþaną (to go, pass through), from Proto-Indo-European *leyt- (to go, depart, die) [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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com