Adventures in Etymology – Story

In this Adventure we’re telling tales about the origins of the word story.

In Honor of The Story Teller

A story [ˈstɔː.ɹi] is:

  • An account of real or fictional events.
  • A lie, fiction.
  • History (obsolete).

It comes from Middle English storie (story, history, quip), from Old French estoire (history, story, tale), from Latin historia [isˈtoɾja] (history, account, story), from Ancient Greek ἱστορία (historía – learning through research, narration of what is learned), from ἱστορέω (historéō – to learn through research, to inquire), from ἵστωρ (hístōr – the one who knows, the expert, the judge), from PIE *wéydtōr (knowner, wise person), from *weyd- (to see) [source].

English words from the same roots include guide, history, idea, idol, idyll, video, vision, visit, wise, wit and wizard [source].

In Old English the word for story was talu, which also meant tale, talk or account. It comes from Proto-West Germanic *talu (narration, report), from Proto-Germanic *talō (narration, report), from PIE *del- (to reckon, calculate) [source].

Words from the same roots include tale, talk and tell in English, taal (language) in Dutch, Zahl (number, numeral, figure) in German, and tala (to speak, tell, talk) in Swedish [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.

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Celtic Pathways – Horses

In this episode we’re looking at words for horses and related beasts.

Horse in a field / Capall i bpáirc

One Proto-Celtic word for horse was *kaballos, which possibly comes from an Asiatic source, and may ultimately come from the Proto-Indo-European *kebʰ- (worn-out horse, nag) [source].

Descendants in the Celtic languages include:

  • *caballos = horse in Gaulish
  • capall [ˈkapˠəl̪ˠ] = horse, mare in Irish
  • capall [kahbəl̪ˠ] = mare, colt, horse, small horse in Scottish Gaulish
  • cabbyl = horse in Manx
  • ceffyl [ˈkɛfɨ̞l / ˈkɛfɪl] = horse, nag in Welsh
  • cevil, kevil = horse in Middle Cornish
  • kefel = horse in Breton

The Gaulish word *caballos was borrowed into Latin as caballus. In Classical Latin it was only used in poetry, while equus was the usual word for horse. In Vulgar Latin and Late Latin caballus was more commonly used, and mean a horse, nag, pack-horse, jade or hack.

Words for horse in various other languages come from the same Latin root, including cavallo in Italian, caballo in Spanish, cavalo in Portuguese and cheval in French [source]. The English words cavalry, chivalry and cavalier also come from the same Latin roots [source].

Another Proto-Celtic word for horse was *ekʷos, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁éḱwos (stallion, horse) [source].

Descendants in the Celtic languages include:

  • epos = horse in Gaulish
  • each [ax] = horse (archaic) Irish
  • each [ɛx] = horse in Scottish Gaulish
  • agh [ax] = steed, riding horse in Manx
  • ebol [ˈɛbɔl / ˈeːbɔl] = colt, foal, sucker in Welsh
  • ebel = horse in Cornish
  • ebeul [ˈe.bøl] = foal in Breton

The English words equine, equestrian come from the same PIE root, via Latin [source], as do words beginning with hippo-, such as hippopotamus, hippodrome and hippomancy (divination by the interpretation of the appearance and behaviour of horses) the via Ancient Greek [source].

Another Proto-Celtic word for horse was *markos, which possibly comes from the Proto-Indo-European *márkos (horse) [source].

Descendants in the Celtic languages include:

  • marc [mˠaɾˠk] = horse (literary, archaic) Irish
  • marc [marxk] = charger, warhorse (literary) in Scottish Gaulish
  • mark-sleih = horseman in Manx
  • march [marχ] = horse, stallion, war-horse, steed in Welsh
  • margh [ˈmaɾx] = horse in Cornish
  • marc’h [ˈmaʁχ] = horse, easel in Breton

The English words mare and marshal possibly come from the same roots [source].

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.

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Adventures in Etymology – Library

Shankland Reading Room, Bangor University
Shankland Reading Room, Bangor University. Photo by Richard Simcott

Today we are unpeeling the origins of the word library.

A library [ˈlaɪbɹi / ˈlaɪbɹəɹi] is:

  • a building, room, or organization that has a collection of books, documents, music, and sometimes things such as tools or artwork, for people to borrow, usually without payment.

It comes from the Middle English librarie [libˈraːriː(ə)] (library, reading room, bookshelf, bookcase, archive, collection (of texts)), from the Anglo-Norman librarie (library, collection of books), from the Old French librairie, from the Latin librārium (bookcase, library), from liber (book, inner bark of a tree) and -ārium (place for) [source].

The word liber comes from the PIE *lewbʰ- (to peel, cut off, harm), perhaps from *lew- (to cut off). The English words leaf, lobby and lodge possibly come from the same roots [source].

A Middle English word for library was boch(o)us, from the Old English bōchūs [ˈboːkˌhuːs] (library), from bōc (book) and hūs (house). The word bookhouse (a repository/store of books, library) exists in modern English, although is not in common usage [source].

Cognates of library in Romance languages, such as librarie in French and librería in Spanish, mean ‘bookshop / bookstore’. They used to mean library until about the 16th century, and were replaced by words derived from the the Latin bibliothēca (library) [source].

The word bibliotheca used to be used in English to mean a collection or catalogue of books, or a library. It was borrowed from the Latin bibliothēca (library), from the Ancient Greek βιβλιοθήκη (bibliothḗkē – bookcase, library, records office, ), from βιβλίον (biblíon – book) and‎ θήκη (thḗkē – box, chest) [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 – Photoptarmosis

Photoptarmosis

Do you sometimes sneeze when you see the sun or when you are exposed to another bright light? If so, you, like me, might have:

photoptarmosis [ˈfəʊ.tə.tɑɹ.məʊsɪs / ˈfoʊ.tə.tɑː.moʊsɪs]:

  • an inherited and congenital autosomal dominant reflex condition that causes sneezing in response to numerous stimuli, such as looking at bright lights.

It comes from the Ancient Greek words φωτω- (phōtō), from φῶς (phôs – light) and πταρμός (ptarmós – sneeze). The condition is also known as photic sneeze reflex, Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst (ACHOO) syndrome, sun sneezing or photosneezia [source].

The word φῶς (phôs), is the Attic form of φᾰ́ος (pháos -light, daylight, a day), which comes from the PIE *bʰéh₂os, from *bʰeh₂- (shine). [source].

The first part of the word phosphorus comes from the same Ancient Greek root (φῶς), while the second part comes from φέρω (phérō – to bear, carry), so phosphorus is “the bearer of light” [source].

Incidentally, the word Pharaoh, as in a supreme ruler of Ancient Egypt, comes from the Ancient Egyptian words pr ꜥꜣ [pɛr ɑːʔɑ] (palace, pharaoh), or literally “great/big house”, and has nothing to do with light, but Φάρος (Pháros) does – it was the Lighthouse of Alexandria and one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World [source].

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

The word πταρμός (ptarmós – sneeze), comes from πτάρνυμαι (ptárnumai – to sneeze), and is the root of the English words ptarmic (a substance, such as pepper or snuff, that causes sneezing) and ptarmoscopy (the divinatory interpretation of sneezes) [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 – Circus

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

la magie du cirque ; de la musique, de la lumière , des numéros sensationnels , de l'émotion

A circus [ˈsɜːkəs/ˈsɝkəs] is:

  • A traveling company of performers that may include acrobats, clowns, trained animals, and other novelty acts, that gives shows usually in a circular tent.
  • A round open space in a town or city where multiple streets meet.
  • A spectacle; a noisy fuss; a chaotic and/or crowded place.

It comes from the Latin circus [ˈkɪrkʊs̠] (orbit, circle, ring, racecourse, space where games are held), or from the Ancient Greek κίρκος [ˈkir.kos] (hawk, falcon, wolf, circle, ring, racecourse), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (to turn, bend) [source].

Some English words from the same PIE root include: corona, crisp, crest, cross, crown, curb, curtain, curve, ring and rink, [source].

In Old English the word for circus was hringsetl [ˈr̥iŋɡˌsetl], from hring (ring) and setl (residence, seat, bench, throne). This was replaced by circus in about the 14th century [source].

At first circus referred to ancient Roman ampitheatres or buildings used for chariot races. By the early 18th century it meant buildings arranged in a ring or a circular road, as in Piccadilly Circus, and by the late 18th century it refered to an arena for performances of acrobatics, horsemanship etc,and later extented to refer to the performers and their performance [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 – Technology

Today we’re exploring the origins of the word technology.

Technology

Technology [tɛkˈnɒlədʒi / tɛkˈnɑlədʒi] is:

  • The organization of knowledge for practical purposes.
  • All the different and usable technologies developed by a culture or people.
  • Any useful skill or mechanism that was developed or invented.

It comes from the Ancient Greek τεχνολογία [te.xno.loˈɣi.a] (systematic treatment of grammar), from τέχνη [té.kʰnɛː] (craft, skill, trade, art) and -λογία [lo.ɡí.aː] (study) [source].

τέχνη comes from the PIE *tetḱ- (to create, produce), which is the root of English words like text, textile, context, subtle and architect. [source].

-λογία comes from λόγος [ló.ɡos] (word, sentence, speech), from λέγω [lé.ɡɔː] (I say, speak, arrange, gather), from the PIE *leǵ- (to gather, collect), which is the root of such English words as collect, dialect, elect, intellect, legion and legend [source].

The Latin word legō [ˈle.ɡo] (I choose, select, collect, gather, read), also comes from the same PIE root, and from it we get words like leggere [ˈlɛd.d͡ʒe.re] (to read) in Italian, lire [liʁ] (to read) in French, and lesen [ˈleːzn̩] (to read, select, gather) in German [source].

Incidentally, the name Lego, as in the little plastic bricks, comes from a differnt source: the Danish phrase leg godt (“play well”) – the leg comes from the Old Norse leikr (game, sport, contest), from the Proto-Germanic *laikaz (dance, game, sport) which is possibly the root of the English word lark (romp, frolic, prank) [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 – Etymology

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we explore the etymology of the word etymology.

Etymology

Etymology [ˌɛt.ɪˈmɒl.ə.d͡ʒi /ˌɛt.əˈmɑl.ə.d͡ʒi] is:

  • the derivation of a word.
  • a chronological account of the birth and development of a particular word or element of a word, often delineating its spread from one language to another and its evolving changes in form and meaning.
  • the study of historical linguistic change, especially as manifested in individual words.

[source]

It comes from the Middle English ethymologie (the purported true, primordial and innate sense of a term), from the Old French ethimologie (etymology), from the Latin etymologia (etymology) from the Ancient Greek ἐτυμολογία [e.ty.mo.lo.ɡí.aː] (etymology), from ἔτυμος (étumos – real, true) and -λογος (-logos – word, reason, explanation) [source]

You could say that I am an etymologist, that is someone who specializes in etymology, and I like to etymologise, or find the etymologies of words.

Etymologists are also known as historical linguists or philologists, and philology is the study of historical linguistics, and more broadly the love and study of learning and literature. So I am both an etymologist and a philologist.

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, 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 – 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 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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