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].

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Adventures in Etymology 2 – Clocks

On today’s adventure we are looking at the origins of the word clock, as today is the day when clocks are put forward an hour, at least here in the UK.

Clock

So as we leave Greenwich Mean Time and sail off into British Summer time – appropriately it’s lovely wet and windy day – let us consider the clock, a device for measuring and indicating the time.

The word clock comes from the Middle Dutch clocke (bell, clock), from the Old Northern French cloque (bell), from the Medieval Latin clocca (bell), probably from a Gaulish word, from the Proto-Celtic *klokkos (bell), which is either onomatopeic, or from the Proto-Indo-European *klek (to laugh or cackle). From the same root we get the Welsh cloch (bell, prize, feat, clock) and related words in other Celtic languages.

Etymology from: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/clock#English

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.

I haven’t written any tunes or songs about clocks yet, but heres one about bells:

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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