Adventures in Etymology – Timber

In this week’s Adventures in Etymology we’re exploring the origins of the word timber.

Studio / Stwdio

Timber [ˈtɪmbə/ˈtɪmbɚ] means:

  • Trees in a forest regarded as a source of wood.
  • Wood that has been pre-cut and is ready for use in construction.
  • A heavy wooden beam, generally a whole log that has been squared off and used to provide heavy support for something such as a roof.

It comes from the Middle English tymber/timber (timber), from the Old English timber [ˈtim.ber] (timber, a building, the act of building), from the Proto-Germanic *timrą [ˈtim.rɑ̃] (building, timber), from the PIE *dem- (to build) [source].

Words from the same Proto-Germanic root include timmeren (to build, put together) in Dutch, Zimmer [ˈt͡sɪmɐ] (room) in German, timmer (timber) in Swedish, and timbur (wood, timber) in Icelandic [source].

Words from the same PIE root include domus (house, home) in Latin, duomo [ˈdwɔ.mo] (cathedral) in Italian, дом [dom] (house, building, home) in Russian and most other Slavic languages, and dome, domestic and despot in English [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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