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 – 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.

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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.

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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.

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Adventures in Etymology – Frolic

Today we find out what links frolics and frogs.

California-06348 - Froggy

Frolic [ˈfɹɒlɪk] means:

  • full of fun
  • a playful or mischievous action
  • an occasion or scene of fun
  • to play and run about happily

It comes from the Dutch vrolijk [ˈvroːˌlək] (cheerful, happy, merry), via the Middle Dutch vrolijc and the Old Dutch frōlīk, from the Proto-Germanic *frawaz [ˈɸrɑ.wɑz] (happy, energetic) ultimately from the PIE *prew- (to jump, hop) [source].

Words from the same Proto-Germanic root include the German words froh [fʁoː] (glad, cheerful, merry) and fröhlich [ˈfʁøːlɪç] (happy, cheerful, merry); the Danish word fro [ˈfʁoˀ] (happy, carefree), and Icelandic word frár [frauːr] (swift, light-footed) [source].

The word frog 🐸 comes from the same PIE root, via the Middle English frogge [ˈfrɔɡ(ə)] (frog, toad, wretch, mushroom), the Old English frocga [ˈfroɡ.ɡɑ] (frog), and the Proto-Germanic *fruþgô (frog), from *fruþ (frog) [source].

Another Old English word for frog was frosċ [froʃ], which apparently became frosh in southern English dialects, such as Essex, and is cognate with German word Frosch [fʁɔʃ] (frog) [source].

In Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and other parts of northern England, the word frosk is/was used for frog, and comes from the Old Norse froskr (frog) [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 – 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 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 – Sloom

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

Slumber

In some dialects of English spoken in England sloom [sluːm] means:

  • A gentle sleep; slumber.
  • to doze, slumber
  • to become weak and flaccid (of plants)
  • to move or wander slowly or silently

In Scots sloom is:

  • A dreamy or sleepy state, a reverie, day-dream, a light sleep, slumber, an unsettled sleep
  • to sleep lightly, doze, slumber fitfully
  • to slip along easily and quietly, to glide smoothly
  • to make or become soft and flaccid as a result of frost, damp, etc

It comes from the Middle English sloum(b)e / slume, from the Old English slūma (sleep, slumber), from the Proto-Germaic *slūm- (slack, loose, limp, flabby), from the PIE *(s)lew- (slack, loose, limp, flabby) [source].

The English word slumber comes from the same Proto-Germanic root, as does the Dutch sluimeren (to slumber) and sloom (sluggish, lifeless), the German Schlummer (slumber) and schlummern (to doze, slumber), and the Danish slumre (to drowse) [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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