I stumbled upon a Latin grammar from 1916 today, and it mentions that nemo comes from ne and an old version of homo, namely hemo. Is this theory considered valid these days? What support is there for this earlier form of homo beside the first vowel of nemo?


1 Answer 1


Yes, this is still considered valid. The proto-Italic word is reconstructed as *χem-ō, χe/om-on-m. de Vaan has the best summary:

enter image description here

  • 3
    +1 for the picture. I hear so much about de Vaan, that it's nice to finally see a page of his!
    – ktm5124
    Mar 20, 2017 at 23:06
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    @ktm5124: You can find it on-line, it is...around. If not, I could help you.
    – Cerberus
    Mar 21, 2017 at 2:12
  • Thanks! A general remark: Text in images is not searchable and therefore not as useful as plain text, so I suggest transcribing such texts whenever possible.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 21, 2017 at 6:02
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    Attentive readers will have noticed that de Vaan actually offers two opposing hypotheses. One is that nemo is ne + hemo, the other that nemo is ne + homo and that hemon(em) is a back-formation from nemo.
    – fdb
    Mar 24, 2017 at 19:50

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