Today we are looking at the word connect [ˌkəˈnɛkt], a word that joins, links, unites, binds and fastens together.
It comes from the Latin word connectere (to fasten together), from cōnectō (I connect, link, fasten together), from con- (together) and nectō (I bind), from the PIE *gned-/*gnod- (to bind).
Words from the same root include: knot, knit, node in English, knot [knɔt] (knot, (hair) bun, skein) in Dutch, Knoten [ˈknoːtən] (knot, interchange) in German, and knude [knuːðə] (knot, node) in Danish.
I chose this word because I think that learning languages is a way to make connections. Connections with other places and people and cultures and ideas.
Today we are looking at the word paraphernalia [ˌpæɹəfəˈneɪli.ə/ˌpɛɹəfɚˈneɪli.ə].
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.
Today we are looking at the word acme [ˈæk.mi], which is today’s word of the day on Dictionary.com.
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.
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].
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.
As today is Mother’s Day in many countries around the world, though not here in the UK, we are looking at the origins of the word mother.
Mother comes from the Middle English moder [ˈmoːdər/ˈmoːðər], from the Old English mōdor [ˈmoː.dor], from the Proto-Germanic *mōdēr [ˈmɔː.ðɛːr], from Proto-Indo-European *méh₂tēr [source].
Words for mother in most Indo-European languages come from the same root, including moeder [ˈmu.dər] in Dutch, Mutter [ˈmʊtɐ] in German, and móðir [ˈmouːðɪr] in Icelandic [source].
Some related words include matriarch, matron, maternal, matrimony, material, matriculate, matrix and matter, all of which come ultimately from the Latin māter (mother, matron, woman, nurse) via French [source].
On today’s adventure we are looking at the origins of the word session, because this afternoon I took part in a music session in a friend’s garden, and I thought I’d find out where the word comes from.
Session comes from the Old French session (sitting, (court) session), from the Latin sessiō (a sitting, a seat, loitering), from sedeō (I sit), from the Proto-Indo-European *sed- (to sit) [source].
Words for to sit in Romance languages, such as sentar in Spanish and Portuguese, asseoir in French, come from the same Latin root [source], and from same the Proto-Indo-European root we get English like assess, dissident, insidious, obsess, possess, reside, seat, sedentary, sedate, sit and siege [source].
As we are in the month of April, I thought I’d look at the origins of that word.
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].
As it is Easter – Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it, or Happy Sunday to those who don’t – I thought I’d look into the origins of an important Easter-related word, no not Easter, but egg.
The word egg comes the Middle English egge, from Old Norse egg, from Proto-Germanic *ajją [ˈɑj.jɑ̃], from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ōwyóm (egg), probably from *h₂éwis (bird) [source].
Egg, with the same spelling, is also found in Icelandic, Faroese and Norwegian, and with different spelling in Swedish and Danish, pronounced slightly different in each language – egg [ˈɛkː] in Icelandic, egg [ɛkː] in Faroese, egg [ɛɡ] in Norwegian, ägg [ɛɡː] in Swedish, and in æg [ˈɛˀɡ̊] Danish. In Dutch and German, words for egg are like the original English word: Ei [aɪ̯] in German and ei [ɛi̯] in Dutch [source].
The originally English word for egg was ey [ei] from the Old English ǣġ [æːj], from the same Proto-Germanic root as egg. It was used until the 16th century, when it was replaced with egg, possibly because it got confused with the word eye, as in the thing you see with [source].
Here’s a video I made of this information:
Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].
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.
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.
Adventures in Etymology is a new series on Radio Omniglot that I started in March 2021. Each week I explore the origins of a word and find out which other words it’s related to. I make a short video each Sunday, and thought I’d post the audio and the script here.
On today’s adventure we are following the word shanty down the etymological rabbit hole. Sea shanties seem to be quite popular at the moment, and the word shanty, as in a rhythmical work song original sung by sailors, comes from the French word chantez (sing), the imperative form of the verb chanter (to sing), from the Old French chanter (to pray, sing, retell or recount), from the Latin cantāre (to enchant, bewitch, forwarn, play (music, roles), recite, sing), from canō (I crow, foretell, play, sing, celebrate, chant), from the Proto-Italic *kanō (to sing), from the Proto-Indo-European *keh₂n- (to sing).
Words in many European languages for to sing come from the same root, including cantar (to sing) in Spanish and Portuguese, cantare (to sing) in Italian, canu (to sing) in Welsh and canadh (to sing) in Irish, and such English words as accent, chant, enchant, incantation, recant.