Adventure in Etymology – Peace

In this Adventure we’re giving peace a chance.

Peace [piːs] is:

  • A state of tranquility, quiet, and harmony; absence of violence.
  • A state free of oppressive and unpleasant thoughts and emotions
  • A state free of war

It comes from Middle English pees [pɛ(ː)s] (peace), from Anglo-Norman peis (peace), from Latin pāx (peace, rest quiet, ease, grace), from Proto-Indo-European *péh₂ḱ-s (peace) from *peh₂ḱ (to join, attach; agreement, setttlement) [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include pay, pact, fair (light in colour, just, equitable), and possibly fang in English; paix (peace), payer (to pay) and pacte (pact, deal) in French; paz (peace) and pagar (to pay) in Spanish, and pax (dibs – to claim a stake to something) in Swedish [source].

Other words from the same roots include the Irish póg, the Scottish Gaelic pòg and the Manx paag, all of which mean kiss and come, via Old Irish and Brythonic, from the Latin (dare) pācem (to give pace), which was originally a kiss used as a sign of peace during a mass [source].

In Old English there were different words for peace: sibb (peace, relationship), as in sibling, and friþ [friθ] (peace, refuge, sancutary), which is cognate with free in English, frid (peace, serenity) in Swedish, and vrede (peace, quiet, tranquility) in Dutch [source].

Incidentally, the band The Pogues were originally called Pogue Mahone, which is an anglicized version of the Irish expression póg mo thóin (kiss my arse) [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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