Adventures in Etymology – Guide

In this Adventure in Etymology we’re looking into the origins of the word guide.

Guided Tour

Guide [ɡaɪd] means:

  • Someone who guides, especially someone hired to show people around a place or an institution and offer information and explanation, or to lead them through dangerous terrain.
  • A document or book that offers information or instruction; guidebook.

It comes from Middle English gīde / gidde / guide (guide, pilot, helmsman), from Old French guide (guide) from Old Occitan guida (guide), from guidar (to guide, lead), from Frankish *wītan (to show the way, lead), from Proto-Germanic *wītaną (to see, know, go, depart), from PIE *weyd- (to see, know) [source].

Words from the same roots include druid, history, idea, vision, wise and wit in English, gwybod (to know) in Welsh, fios (knowledge, information) in Irish and veta (to know) in Swedish [source].

The English word guide has been borrowed into various other languages, including Japanese: ガイド (gaido – guide, tour guide, conductor, guiding, leading, guidebook) [source], and Korean: 가이드 (gaideu – tour guide, guidebook, user’s manual) [source].

By the way, there’s an episode of the Celtic Pathways podcast about the word druid, and there’s a post on my Celtiadur blog about words related to knowledge in Celtic languages.

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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 blog.

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