Wiktionary says that the Italian verb "andare" might come from suppletion of "vadere" with another Latin verb. But it goes on to say that another possibility is the dissimilation of "ambulare". I think it gives even more possibilities.

Could anyone verify and perhaps elaborate on these possibilities? I do not know very much about phonological changes, and terms such as suppletion and dissimilation. If anyone could give a compelling story or two on how "andare" came to be, it would be much appreciated.

2 Answers 2


I generally trust Etymonline more than Wiktionary:

musical direction, "moderately slow," 1742, from Italian andante, literally "walking," present participle of andare "to go," from Vulgar Latin ambitare (source of Spanish andar "to go"), from Latin ambitus, past participle of ambire "to go round, go about," from amb- "around" (see ambi-) + ire "go" (see ion).

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    Strange that a past participle for a verb became the stem for another verb.
    – ktm5124
    Jan 31, 2017 at 23:10
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    Etymonline is better than Wiktionary because it is mainly plagiarized from the OED, minus diacritics and minus citations. But of course you could go straight to the OED.
    – fdb
    Jan 31, 2017 at 23:17
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    @ktm5124 That's actually very common, even in Classical Latin, e.g. cantare from canere.
    – cmw
    Jan 31, 2017 at 23:35
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    Just as a minor observation, I think the term literally in the quote is quite inaccurate; while the Italian andante might translate to walking in some cases, such translation is highly context-dependent, and certainly not literal (and of very uncommon use, the only use I'm aware of being the musical term). Literally andante means going (present participle) and it carries no reference to walking (camminare) or to any other specific way of going or mean of transportation. It's just the present participle of andare (to go). Feb 1, 2017 at 9:24
  • Errata corrige: I wanted to mean that andante itself is very uncommon, not its meaning as walking (which by the way is even more uncommon, if used at all). Feb 1, 2017 at 11:24

The most probable theory is that andare comes from Latin ambulare, probably through the military command ambulate “forwards!”, whence Italian andate and also French allez.


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