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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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 28 – 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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Adventures in Etymology 27 – Bucket

Today we’re looking into the the origins of the word bucket [ˈbʌkɪt/ˈbə-kət].

Fire buckets

Definition:

  • a container made of rigid material, often with a handle, used to carry liquids or small items.
  • a part of a piece of machinery that resembles a bucket

[source]

It comes from the Middle English buket/boket [ˈbukɛt] (bucket), partly from the Old English bucc (bucket, pitcher), partly from the Anglo-Norman buket/buquet (tub, pail), from the Old French buc (abdomen, object with a cavity), from the Frankish *būk (belly, trunk, torso), from the Proto-Germanic *būkaz [ˈbuː.kɑz] (belly, abdomen, body), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰōw- (to blow, swell) [source].

Words for the same Proto-Germanic root include bowk (to retch, vomit, emit smoke) in Scots, buik [bœy̯k] (belly, paunch) in Dutch, buque [ˈbuke] (ship, vessel) in Spanish, and buco [ˈbu.ko] (hole, gap, hovel) in Italian [source].

The English word trebuchet also comes from the same Proto-Germanic root, via the Old French trebuchet/trebuket (trebuchet, bird trap), from trebuchier (to fall/knock over), from tres (trans-, across, intensifying prefix) and buc (abdomen) [source].

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 26 – Iron

Today we’re getting elemental and delving into the origins of the word iron [ˈaɪ.ən/ˈaɪ.ɚn].

iron fence

Definition:

  • an element which usually takes the form of a hard, dark-grey metal that can be used to make steel.
  • an electrical device with a flat metal base that heats up and is used to remove creases from clothes.

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word iren [ˈiːrən] (iron), from the Old English īsern [ˈiː.sern] (iron), from the Proto-West-Germanic *īsarn (iron) from the Proto-Germanic **īsarną [ˈiː.sɑr.nɑ̃] (iron), from the Proto-Celtic *īsarnom (iron), probably from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁ēsh₂r̥no- (bloody, red), from *h₁ésh₂r̥ (flowing blood) [source].

Words for iron in Germanic and Celtic languages come from the same Proto-Celtic root, including ijzer [ˈɛi̯zər] in Dutch, Eisen [ˈʔaɪ̯zn̩] in German, haearn [ˈhai.arn] in Welsh and iarann [ˈiəɾˠən̪ˠ] in Irish [source].

Incidentally, the word irony is not related to iron at all. Instead it comes from the Middle French ironie (irony), from the Latin īrōnīa (irony), from the Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία [eː.rɔː.něː.a] (irony, pretext), from εἴρων (one who feigns ignorance) [source].

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog and a recent post was about Iron Ferrets.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

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 25 – Yarn

Today we’re spinning a yarn and telling a tale about the origins of the word yarn [jɑːn/jɑɹn].

Yarn

Definition:

  • a continuous strand of twisted threads of natural or synthetic fibers, such as wool or nylon, used in weaving or knitting.
  • A long, often elaborate narrative of real or fictitious adventures; an entertaining tale.

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word yarn(e) / ȝern [ˈjarn/ˈjɛrn] (yarn, fibre used to weave or knit), from the Old English word ġearn [jæ͜ɑr(ˠ)n] (yarn), from the Proto-Germanic *garną (yarn) from *garnō (gut, intestine), from the Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰorn-/ǵʰer- (gut, intestine) [source].

The English words hernia, cord and chord come from the same PIE root: hernia via the Latin hernia (protruded viscus, hernia) [source], and c(h)ord via the Old French corde (rope), from Latin chorda [ˈkʰor.da] (tripe, intestine, string of a musical instrument), from the Ancient Greek χορδά [kʰor.dɛ̌ː] (khordá – guts, intestines, gut string(s) of a musical instrument such as a lyre) [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 23 – Hedge

Today we are looking at the word hedge [hɛdʒ].

Hedges

Definition:

  • a row of bushes or small trees planted close together, especially when forming a fence or boundary

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word hegge [hɛd͡ʒ] (hedge, bush, shrub), from the Old English heċġ [hed͡ʒ] (fence), from the Proto-West-Germanic *haggju (hedge), from the Proto-Germanic *hagjō [ˈxɑɣ.jɔ] (hedge), from the PIE *kagʰyóm (enclosure, hedge) [source].

The English words quay (as in a stone wharf) and haw (as in hawthorn, and an old word hedge) come from the same root, as does the Welsh word cae [kaːɨ̯/kai̯] (field, pitch), the Cornish word ke (hedge, fence), and the Breton word kae (hedge) [source].

Other words from the same root include the French haie [ɛ] (hedge, obstacle, hurdle, fence), which was borrowed from Frankish, and words for hedge in Germanic languages, including Hecke [ˈhɛkʰə] in German and heg [ɦɛx] 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 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 21 – Circle

Today we are looking at the word circle [ˈsɜː.kəɫ / ˈsɝ.kəɫ].

Circles made with fire poi on Brighton beach

Definition:

  • A shape consisting of a curved line completely surrounding an area, every part of which is the same distance from the centre of the area.

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word circle, cercle, from the Old French cercle [ˈtser.klə] (circle), from the Latin circulus [ˈkɪɾkʊɫ̪ʊs̠] (circle, orbit, ring, hoop, necklace, chain, company, group), a diminutive of circus [ˈkɪɾkʊs̠] (orbit, circle, ring, racecourse, circus), from the Ancient Greek κίρκος [kír.kos] (type of hawk, or falcon, type of wolf, circle, ring, racecourse, circus), from the PIE *(s)ker- (to bend, turn) [source].

Some English words from the same root include: ring, rink, cross, crown, corona, curb, curtain, curve, crisp and crest [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 16 – Book

Today we are looking at the word book [bʊk].

Library

Definition
– a handwritten or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers
– a work of fiction or nonfiction in an electronic format [source]

It comes from the Middle English word booke [boːk] (book), from the Old English bōc [boːk] (book, writing. document), from the Proto-Germanic *bōks [bɔːks] (letter, written message, inscriptions carved into a flat object pressed together) [source].

In Middle English another word for book was livret, from the Old French livret (book, booklet) from livre (book), from the Latin liber (book, the inner bark of a tree, paper, parchment), from the PIE *lewbʰ- (to peel, cut off, harm).

English words from the same root include leaf, lobby, lodge, libel, library, which in Middle and Old English was bōchūs [ˈboːkˌhuːs] or “bookhouse” [source] or bōchord (“bookhoard”) [source]. Incidentally, there’s a post on the Omniglot blog about words for library in various languages.

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.

Adventures in Etymology 15 – Sky

Today we are looking at the word sky [skaɪ].

Clouds

Definition:
– the region of the clouds or the upper air; the upper atmosphere of the earth
– the heavens or firmament, appearing as a great arch or vault
– the supernal or celestial heaven

It comes from the Middle English word sky [skiː] (sky, cloud, mist), from the Old Norse ský [ˈskyː] (cloud), from the Proto-Germanic *skiwją [ˈskiw.jɑ̃] (cloud, sky), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)kewH- (to cover, hide, cloud) [source].

In Old English the word for sky (and heaven) was heofon [ˈhe͜o.von], from the Proto-West Germanic *hebn (sky, heaven), which became heaven in modern English [source].

Related words in other languages include sky [ˈskyˀ] (cloud) in Danish, sky [ʂyː] (cloud) in Norwegian, sky [ɧyː] (sky, cloud) in Swedish, ský [sciː] (cloud) in Icelandic,and skýggj [skʊt͡ʃː] (cloud) in Faroese. A more common word for sky in Swedish is himmel, and cloud is moln [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 on the Omniglot Blog. There are more details about words for sky in the post When is the sky not the sky?.