There is French "qui", whose use is alligned with Turkish "ki". As a Turk, I guessed we might have imported the word. It had been resting at the back of my mind for quite some years now.

It turns out Turkish imported the word from Persian [1] and French must have taken from Latin.


This leads to a proxy question: "Did Latin borrow/lend word 'qui' from/to Persian 'که' (kë)?".

Hopefully this does not violate the exchange rules horribly, could not find an etymology site that mentions a relation nor an etymology stackexchange.

  • Is " French "quis" " a reference to some Old French word I don't know about, or a mistake for the modern French "qui" ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 14:36
  • 1
    They’re cognates.
    – Davislor
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 17:27
  • @Evargalo it was the latter, edited.
    – cbugk
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 20:46

1 Answer 1


Neither is descended from the other. They're both descended from Proto-Indo-European, which had a root looking something like *kʷi- for this purpose.

You'll find similar-looking words in a lot of Indo-European languages; the main trick is that the * sound changed in many branches. In English, for example, all the descendants of this root start with "wh-" (who, what, which), while in Slavic they generally start with č. But the pattern remains!

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