Adventures in Etymology – Wicker

In this Adventure we’re unravelling the origins of the word wicker.

Four little baskets sitting on a wall
Wicker [ˈwɪkə(ɹ)/ˈwɪkɚ] is:

  • A flexible branch or twig of a plant such as willow, used in weaving baskets and furniture.

It comes from Middle English wiker (wickerwork), possibly from Old Norse veikr (pliant, weak), from Proto-Germanic *waikwaz [ˈwɑi̯.kʷɑz] (weak, soft, pliable), from *wīkwaną [ˈwiː.kʷɑ.nɑ̃] (to yield, fold, retreat) from Proto-Indo-European *weyk- (to bend, curve, divide) [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include week, weak, province and cervix in English; Wechsel (change, bill of exchange) in German; växel (change, bill of exchange, switch, gear) in Swedish; fois (time) in French; and vez (time, instance, place, turn) in Spanish [source].

Incidentally, the Middle English word woke [wɔːk/wɑːk], which meant weak, feeble, helpless, unimportant or bendable, comes from the same roots, as did the word wocnesse [ˈwɔːknɛs] (vulnerability to sin or iniquity, lack of fighting skill) [source].

They are not related to the modern usage of woke, which is an abbreviation woken (up), and originated in African-American vernacular as meaning awake, conscious, alert, well-informed, especially in racial and other social justice issues. It is often used in a dergatory way about anyone who holds views that are disliked by the person using it [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 – Haven

In this Adventure we’re finding a safe haven and other peaceful places.

Armadale harbour

A haven [ˈheɪvən] is:

  • A harbour or anchorage protected from the sea
  • A place of safety
  • A peaceful place

It comes from Middle English haven(e), from Old English hæfen [ˈxæ.fen] (inlet, harbour, port), from Proto-Germanic *hab(a)nō [ˈxɑ.βɑ.nɔː] (harbour, haven), from PIE *kh₂p(ó)neh₂, from *keh₂p- (to take, seize, grasp) [source].

The English word abra, which means a narrow mountain pass, was borrowed from Spanish abra (small bay, inlet, glade, clearing), which comes from French havre (haven), and comes ultimately from Proto-Germanic *hab(a)nō via Middle Dutch, Old Dutch and Proto-West-Germanic, or Old Danish and Old Norse [source].

Other words from the same Proto-Germanic roots include Hafen (harbour, port, haven) in German, haven (harbour, port) in Dutch, hamn (harbour) in Swedish, and havn (harbour, haven) in Danish [source].

Incidentally, the word heaven doesn’t come from the same roots as haven. Instead it comes from Middle English heven(e) [ˈhɛv(ə)nə] (heaven, the heavens), from Old English heofon [ˈxe͜o.fon] (sky, heaven), from Proto-West-Germanic *hebun (sky, heaven), the roots of which are uncertain [source].

In case you’re interested, here details of the origins of the word harbour.

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 / Celtic Pathways – Brogue

In this episode we’re look into the tangled origins of the word brogue. I decided to make this a joint Adventures in Etymology / Celtic Pathways episode rather doing two separate ones. I hope you don’t mind.

John Baker's Doppelmonk Brogue K188 Kalbsleder hellbraun (brown) (1)

The word brogue in English refers to a type of shoe, or a strong accent, particularly a strong Irish accent when speaking English, although it originally referred to Irish spoken with a strong English accent, or a heavy shoe of untanned leather.

It comes from the Irish word bróg (boot, shoe), from the Old Irish bróc [broːɡ] (shoe, sandal, greave), from the Old Norse brók (trousers, breeches) or the Old English brōc (underpants), both of which come from the Proto-Germanic *brōks (rear end, rump, leggings, pants, trousers), from the PIE *bʰreg- (to break, crack, split) [source].

Related words in other Celtic languages include:

  • bròg [brɔːg] = shoe, boot, hoof in Scottish Gaelic
  • braag = brogue, shoe in Manx
  • brog = brogue (shoe) in Welsh

Brogue in the sense of accent might come from the Irish word barróg (hug, wrestling grip, brogue, impediment of speech) [source], which comes from the Old Irish barróc (fast hold, tight grip, embrace, gripe, stitch) [source],

Other words from the Proto-Germanic root *brōks include breeches/britches in English, brók (trousers, underpants) in Icelandic and Faroese, brok (trousers) in Swedish and Norwegian, and broek (trousers) in Dutch [source].

The Irish word bríste (trousers), the Manx word breeçhyn (breeches) and the Welsh word brits/britsh (breeches) were borrowed from the English word breeches. The Scottish Gaelic word briogais (trousers) comes from the Scots breeks (trousers, breeches), from the Middle English breke, from the Old English brēċ [breːt͡ʃ] (underpants) [source].

More details of shoe– and trouser-related words in Celtic languages can be found on the 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 – 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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Celtic Pathways – Beer

In this episode we are investigating words for beer and related things.

P1020436

In Proto-Celtic beer was *kormi or *kurman, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *kremH- (to burn), or from *ḱr̥h₃-m- (porridge, soup), or from *ḱh₁erh₂- (to mix) [source].

Descendants in the Celtic languages include:

  • coirm [kɞɾʲəmʲ] = ale, drinking-party, feast, banquet in Irish
  • cuirm [kurʲum] = feast, banquet, entertainment; ale, beer (archaic) in Scottish Gaulish
  • cuirrey = banquet, feast in Manx
  • cwrw [ˈkʊru / ˈkuːru] = beer, ale in Welsh
  • korev, kor = ale, beer in Cornish
  • korev = ale, beer in Breton

The Latin word cervēsa (beer) comes from the same Proto-Celtic roots. From this we get the Spanish word cerveza (beer), the Portuguese word cerveja (beer), the French word cervoise (ale, beer – archaic), and the Italian word cervogia (beer – archaic) [source].

Other words for beer in Celtic languages include:

  • beoir [bʲoːɾʲ] = beer in Irish
  • beòir [bjɔːrʲ] = beer in Scottish Gaulish
  • beer = beer in Manx
  • bir = beer, ale in Welsh
  • bier = ale, beer in Breton

The words in the Goidelic languages come from the Old Norse bjórr (beer), from the Proto-Germanic *beuzą [ˈbeu̯.zɑ̃] (beer), from the Proto-Indo-Eurpean *bʰews- (dross, sediment) [source]. The Welsh word were borrowed from English, and the Breton word was borrowed from French.

Sláinte! Slàinte! Slaynt! Iechyd da! Yeghes da! Yec’hed mat! (Good health! / Cheers!)

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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – Knot

Today we’re untangling the origins of the word knot 🪢.

knots

A knot [nɒt/nɑt] is:

  • any of various fastenings formed by looping and tying a piece of rope, cord, etc, in upon itself, to another piece of rope, or to another object
  • a tangle
  • a small cluster or huddled group, e.g. ‘a knot of people’

It comes from the Middle English knotte [ˈknɔt(ə)] (knot, tie, binding), from the Old English cnotta [ˈknot.tɑ] (knot), from the Proto-Germaic *knuttô [ˈknut.tɔːː] (knot), from the PIE *gnod- (to bind) [source].

The Latin word nōdus (knot, knob, bond) comes from the same PIE root, and is the root of the English words such as noose, node and nodule [source].

The English word knit comes from the same PIE root, via Old English and Proto-Germanic, as does the name Canute, via the Old Norse Knútr, probably from the Old Norse word knútr (knot) [source].

A knot is also a unit of speed used by ships and aircraft that equal one nautical mile (1.85 km) per hour. This usage comes from a method of calculating the speed of a ship in use since at least the 16th century with a long rope with knots are regular intervals [More details].

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 – Runes (ᚱᚢᚾᛟ)

Today we’re delving into the secret and mysterious origins of the word rune.

Runic stone - National Museum, Copenhagen

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:

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 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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