Adventures in Etymology 12 – Paraphernalia

Today we are looking at the word paraphernalia [ˌpæɹəfəˈneɪli.ə/ˌpɛɹəfɚˈneɪli.ə].

My musical menagerie
Some of my musical and juggling paraphernalia

According to Dictionary.com, it refers to “equipment, apparatus, or furnishing used in or necessary for a particular activity”, “personal belongings”, or “the personal articles, apart from dower, reserved by law to a married woman.”

It comes from the Ancient Greek word παράφερνα (parápherna), meaning “goods which a wife brings over and above her dowry”, from παρά (pará – beside) and φερνή (phernḗ – dowry). Apparently when dowries were paid, they became the husband’s property, and anything else the wife brought to the marriage (her paraphernalia) remained in her possession [source].

Synonyms include apparatus, accouterments, effects, equipment, furnishings, gear, possessions, stuff, tackle, things and trappings.

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.

Adventures in Etymology 11 – Acme

Today we are looking at the word acme [ˈæk.mi], which is today’s word of the day on Dictionary.com.

ACME

Dictionary.com defines it as “the highest point, summit or peak”, and Lexico.com defines it as “the point at which someone or something is best, perfect or most successful”.

It comes from the Ancient Greek word ἀκμή [akˈmi] (point, edge; the highest or culminating point of something, bloom, flower, prime, zenith, especially of a person’s age; the best or most fitting time), from the Proto-Indo-European *h₂eḱ- (sharp) [source].

English words from the same PIE root include: acid, acronym, acute, edge, oxygen and vinegar [source].

To me, acme reminds me of the Roadrunner cartoons, in which Wile E Coyote tries to catch the roadrunner using all sorts of material and equipment from the Acme corporation, none of which seems to work very well.

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.

Adventures in Etymology 10 – Enigmatic

Today we are looking at the word enigmatic [ˌen.ɪɡˈmæt.ɪk/ˌɛnɪɡˈmætɪk], a mysterious, puzzling, perplexing and inscrutable word that defies description.

Definition: “mysterious and impossible to understand completely” [source]. Or,“resembling an enigma, or a puzzling occurrence, situation, statement, person, etc.; perplexing; mysterious” [source].

enigmatic ayam

It comes from enigma (riddle; sth/sb puzzling, mysterious or inexplicable), from the Latin aenigma [ae̯ˈniɡ.ma] (riddle, allegory), from the Ancient Greek αἴνιγμα [ˈɛ.niɣ.ma] (riddle, taunt, ambush) from αἶνος [ˈɛ.nos] (story, fable, praise) [source], which is posibly the root of the name Αἰνείας / Aenēās, the trojan hero of the Aeneid, and legendary ancestor of Romans [source].

In Modern Greek αίνιγμα [ˈɛniɣma] means a riddle, puzzle or enigma, αινιγματικός [ɛniɣmatiˈkɔs] means enigmatic, mysterious, inscrutable, and αινιγματικότητα (ainigmatikótita) means obscurity.

Greek recordings made with: https://ttsfree.com/

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.

Episode 43 – Punctuation

In this episode I talk about punctuation, focusing particularly on the history and development of punctuation, and some of the people involved.

Here is Victor Borge demonstrating his Phonetic Punctuation:

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Frolicing Ferrets / Ffuredau sy’n Prancio

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Adventures in Etymology 5 – Music

Today we are looking at the origins of the word music, which is something that is quite important to me as I like to sing, play various musical instruments, and to write songs and tunes.

Music comes from the Middle English word musyke [ˈmiu̯ziːk], which was borrowed from the Anglo-Norman musik/musike, which came from the Old French musique [myˈzikə], from the Latin mūsica [ˈmuː.si.ka].

This was borrowed from the Ancient Greek μουσική (mousikḗ) [moː.si.kɛ̌ː], which means ‘music, poetry or art’, and comes from Μοῦσα (Moûs – Muse), inspirational Ancient Greek goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. Of uncertain origin, possibly from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- (to think).

Other words from the same Greek root include Muse, museum and mosaic.

In Old English the word for music (and also joy, frenzy and ecstasy) was drēam [dræ͜ɑːm], from the Proto-West Germanic *draum (dream), from the Proto-Germanic *draumaz [ˈdrɑu̯.mɑz] (dream), from the Proto-Indo-European *dʰrewgʰ- (to deceive, injure, damage). The word dream comes from the same root.

Sources: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/music
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muses
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euterpe

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.

Here’s my latest song – Distraction – I was planning to write a song about owls, but got distracted and wrote this instead:

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 4 – April

As we are in the month of April, I thought I’d look at the origins of that word.

Spring blossom / Blodau'r Gwanyn

April comes from the Middle English apprile, which was originally aueril, from the Old French avrill, but was re-Latinised to make it like the Latin word Aprīlis (of the month of the goddess Venus), which possibly came from the Etruscan 𐌀𐌐𐌓𐌖 (apru), from the Ancient Greek Ἀφροδίτη (Aphrodítē), the goddess of love and beauty [source].

The originally Old English word for April was ēastermōnaþ, or “Eastermonth”, named after the goddess Ēastre, whose name is related to a Proto-Indo-European word for dawn and east (*h₂ews-). The word Eastermonth also exists in modern English, but is only used in poetry [source].

Words for April, and other months, in many 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 on the Omniglot Blog.

Here’s a Spring-related tune I wrote: Spring at Last / Gwanwyn o’r Diwedd

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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