Adventures in Etymology – Friend

In this Adventure we find out what links the word friend with words like afraid, free and Friday.

The winning quiz team

A friend [fɹɛnd] is:

  • A person, typically someone other than a family member, spouse or lover, whose company one enjoys and towards whom one feels affection.
  • A person with whom one is vaguely or indirectly acquainted.

It comes from Middle English fre(e)nd [freːnd] (A friend or compatriot; a close associate; A patron, philanthropist, or supporter; A family member; one of one’s kin), from Old English frēond [fre͜oːnd] (friend, lover) from Proto-West-Germanic *friund (friend), from Proto-Germanic *frijōndz (friend, loved one), from PIE *preyH- (to love, to please) [source].

English words from the same roots include afraid, free, proper and possibly Friday [source].

Friday? It comes from Old English frīġedæġ [ˈfriː.jeˌdæj] (Friday), from Proto-Western-Germanic *Frījā dag (Friday, “Frigg’s day”), a calque of the Latin diēs Veneris (Friday, “day of Venus”). Frījā/Frigg was the Norse goddess of love, and associated with the Roman goddess Venus. Her name possibly comes from Proto-Germanic *frijōną (to love, free, like), from *frijaz (free), from PIE *priHós (dear, beloved, happy, free), from *preyH- (to love, to please) [source].

So you could say that Friday is the day of freedom, or friendship or love, or all three. Whichever you prefer.

Incidentally, the second syllables of the names Geoffrey/Jeffrey, Godfrey, Siegfried and Winfred come ultimately from PIE *preyH- as well [source]. However, the name Winifred comes from Welsh Gwenfrewi, from gwen (white, fair, blessed) and ffrwd (brook, stream) [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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