Adventures in Etymology – Dust

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

Dust Storm 1585 and Milwaukee and Mailbox in Road

dust [dʌst] is:

  • earth or other matter in fine, dry particles.
  • a cloud of finely powdered earth or other matter in the air.
  • to wipe the dust from
  • to sprinkle with a powder or dust

It comes from the Middle English d(o)ust [du(ː)st] (dust, powder, dirt, grit), from the Old English dūst [duːst] (dust, powder), from the Proto-Germanic *dunstą [ˈdun.stɑ̃] (mist, haze, dust), from the Proto-Indo-European *dʰewh₂- (smoke, mist, haze) [source].

English words from the same PIE root include dew, dusk and dye (via Proto-Germanic), down (hill) and dune (via Proto-Celtic), and fume (via Latin) [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 wrote a song about dust this week, which goes something like this:

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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