I am interested in the origin of the words discipulus and disciplina, which have found their way into many modern languages, e.g., in the English words disciple and discipline. Unfortunately, there seem to be two conflicting etymologies, which I detail below. I am asking for some authorative information that goes beyond what is described below, in particular any arguments for and against these etymologies.
The Online Etymology Dictionary gives as one alternative for the origin of the English disciple:
Old English discipul […], Biblical borrowing from Latin discipulus "pupil, student, follower," said to be from discere "to learn" [OED, Watkins], […]
A similar derivation is claimed by the Wiktionary and some other sources (which may however all be copying each other).
The German etymological dictionary Kluge (23rd edition, 1999) gives the following chain of origin (for the German Disziplin):
- Disziplin comes from disciplina.
- disciplina comes from discipulus.
- discipulus comes from discipere, where the latter is marked as a deduced form (“erschlossen”) and shall mean to grap (“erfassen”).
- discipere is formed from dis and capere.*
As sources it cites:
- H. Schulz, Deutsches Fremdwörterbuch (1913), 151.
- O. Mauck – Der lateinische Begriff ‘disciplina’ (Diss. Freiburg/Schweiz 1941) [Diss. means Dissertation and refers to a PhD thesis or similar.]
- Joachim Ritter – Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie 2 (1972), 256–261
- Lexikon des Mittelalters (1986), 1130
I have access to neither of those and suspect that only the second item will provide further insights.
The Online Etymology Dictionary gives a similar account as an alternative to Etymology 1:
But according to Barnhart and Klein, from a lost compound *discipere "to grasp intellectually, analyze thoroughly," from dis- "apart" […] + capere "to take, take hold of" […]
The reason why I am so interested in this is the spelling of the German word Disziplin in orthographies that feature a long s (ſ):
If the letter s in that word would originate from an s at the end of a (non-inflectionary) morpheme, as in Etymology 2, the word would be spelt Disziplin.
If the letter s was originating from an s in the beginning or middle of a morpheme, as in Etymology 1, the word would be spelt Diſziplin. This is the spelling given by old German dictionaries, but this may be just a reflection of the etymological knowledge of that time.