Adventures in Etymology – Paint

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


Paint [peɪnt] is:

  • A substance that is applied as a liquid or paste, and dries into a solid coating that protects or adds colour to an object or surface to which it has been applied.

It comes from the Middle English peinten (to paint, portray, decorate), from the Old French peintier (to paint), from peindre (to paint), from the Latin pingere (to decorate, embellish, paint, tint, colour), from pingō (I decorate, embellish, etc) from PIE *peyḱ- (to hew, cut out, stitch, embroider, mark, paint, color) [source].

English words from the same Latin root include picture, depict, pigment and pint [source].

In Old English the word for paint was tēafor [ˈtæ͜ɑː.vor], which became tiver (a kind of ochre used for marking sheep in some parts of England). It comes from the Proto-Germanic *taubrą (magic, sorcery), which is the root of the German word Zauber (magic, spell) [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I chose this word as my new studio is currently being painted.

Studio / Stwdio

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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