Adventures in Etymology – Companion

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re looking at the origins of the word companion.

breaking bread

Companion [kəmˈpænjən] is:

  • a person who is frequently in the company of, associates with, or accompanies another:
  • a person employed to accompany, assist, or live with another in the capacity of a helpful friend.

It comes from the Old French compaignon [kumpaˈɲun] (friend, colleague, companion), from the Late Latin compāniō [kɔmˈpäːniɔ] (companion), from com- (with) and‎ pānis (bread) [source].

Compāniō was probably a calque of the Frankish *gahlaibō (messmate), from the Proto-Germanic *ga- (with) and‎ *hlaibaz (bread), from which we get the English words loaf and lord, via the Old English hlāf (bread) and weard (guard) [source].

In Middle English another word for bread was payn, which came from the Old French pain (bread), from the Latin pānis (bread, loaf, food, nourishment), possibly from the PIE *peh₂- (to graze). This became pain (bread stuffed with a filling) in Early Modern English [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 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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