Adventures in Etymology – Deck

Today we’re exploring the origins of the word deck.

Sunset over Bangor pier

deck [dɛk] means:

  • Any raised flat surface that can be walked on: a balcony; a porch; a raised patio; a flat rooftop.
  • The floorlike covering of the horizontal sections, or compartments, of a ship.
  • A main aeroplane surface.

It comes from the Middle English dekke (the roof over any part of a boat or ship), from Middle Dutch dec (roof, covering), from decken (to roof, cover, protect), from Old Dutch thecken (to cover, roof), from Proto-West-Germanic *þakkjan (to cover), from Proto-Germanic *þakjaną [ˈθɑk.jɑ.nɑ̃] (to cover), *þaką (roof, cover), from PIE *(s)teg- (cover) [source].

Words from the same Proto-Germanic root (*þaką) include: thatch in English, dak (roof) and dekken [ˈdɛkə(n)] (to cover, set) in Dutch, Dach (roof) and decken (to cover, set) in German, tak (roof, ceiling) and täcka [tɛka] (to cover) in Swedish, and tag (roof) and tække (to thatch) in Danish [source].

Words from the same PIE root (*(s)teg-) include: detect, protect, tile and toga in English, (house) in Welsh, and teach (house) in Irish [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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